Motoring

MOTORING

Broadening a mighty range — the new Ford Ranger Tremor and Platinum

Broadening a mighty range — the new Ford Ranger Tremor and Platinum
The all new Ford Ranger Tremor. (Photo: FMCSA)

South Africa’s bakkie-mad market has just got even more competitive with the launch of Ford SA’s locally produced Ranger Tremor and upmarket Ranger Platinum.

It’s not like I don’t have enough to worry about. On any given day I’ll find myself stressing about real-world problems: impending nuclear war, the next pandemic, AI cloning my skills, cyber scams, the ever-rising cost of fuel (and mangoes), the threat of famine, floods and drought… the list is endless. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, I’ll find myself thinking about a Ford Ranger bakkie salesperson. 

Since the launch of the new Ranger in late 2022, those who flog blue-oval-badged bakkies to put bread on the table have been faced with the onerous task of having to intimately know and sell 25 different models of the New Generation Ranger. These include the base model, the XL, the XLT, the Wildtrak, the Wildtrak X and the top-of-the-range Raptor. And then there are single cabs, double cabs, 4x2s, 4x4s, plus all the add-ons and the options. You’d have to have a Bachelor’s in Bakkies to get your head around all of these derivatives. 

And now, to make the salesperson’s job that much more challenging, Ford SA has thrown two more steeds into the mix: the Ford Ranger Tremor and Platinum. But who can blame the motoring giant for trying to capitalise on the current huge appetite for bakkies in South Africa? 

For some perspective, last year, one in five cars sold in South Africa were bakkies, with 160,000 of them finding new homes. The double-cab segment was by far the most popular and within this segment, 4x2s made up 59% of sales, 4x4s accounted for 36%, while the other 5% was absorbed by base models.

Ford Ranger

The Tremor is a thoroughbred off-roader. (Photo: FMCSA)

Ford SA has done particularly well with its Ranger double cab. In 2023, it came out tops, selling 20,662 units to beat its arch-rival, the Toyota Hilux, which sold 18,208 double cabs. In third place was the Isuzu D-Max (8,524), the number four spot went to the GWM P-Series (4,009) and the Nissan Navara was fifth with 3,246 DCs sold. 

Top-of-the-range double cabs have increasingly become more like premium SUVs. They’re easy on the eye, super comfy, kitted out with hi-tech and the latest safety systems, plus there’s the added bonus of a highly practical load bay. As roads increasingly decline in many regions of South Africa, a bakkie appears to have become the go-to vehicle when considering buying wheels. 

I recently experienced Ford’s two new offerings on an out-of-town launch in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. 

The Ranger Tremor

The Tremor name plate has been around since 2002, but back then it had nothing to do with the bakkie’s engine or capabilities – it was purely a sound system upgrade. Remember the days before Bluetooth and streaming, when cars had cassette and CD players? Two decades ago, the “Tremor package” offered a 485w Pioneer sound system, along with a 10-inch subwoofer to blast beats like Eminem’s Lose Yourself and Nickelback’s How You Remind Me which were all the rage back then.

In 2013/14 Ford produced a F-150 Tremor based on the 12th-generation F-150 with its 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine. There were a number of sporty add-ons, including some retro graphics, and over time this model became something of a collector’s piece. South Africa has never been graced with the F-series (which is bigger and brasher than the Ranger), but we do now have our own Ranger Tremor. 

The Tremor’s General Grabber AT3 tyres. (Photo: FMCSA)

Ford Ranger

The Tremor is a thoroughbred off-roader. (Photo: FMCSA)

It’s essentially an XLT, sharing the same engine – a 2.0L BiTurbo diesel mill – delivering 154kW of power and 500Nm of torque. Its appeal lies in the fact that it borrows a bag of off-road capabilities from the Wildtrak X but comes in about R60k cheaper.

There’s stuff like easy-to-clean vinyl floors, an uprated suspension with “Bilstein Positive Dampers”, huge General Grabber AT3 tyres and 4×4 capabilities that will make you look like a pro on the fly. The Tremor has a massive 261mm of ground clearance, similar to that of the Raptor, and seven drive modes which include Tow Haul, Slippery, Mud Ruts and Rock Crawl. 

There’s also something called Trail Turn Assist, which debuted in the Wildtrak X last year and which we got to put into practice on a challenging 4×4 course outside Grabouw. Faced with tight corners while scaling a twisty mountain, I got to experience first-hand how the system reduces the bakkie’s turning circle by up to 25%. This meant I could take tight bends without having to endlessly go forward and reverse.

Off-road driving in a huge 4×4 weighing more than 3,000kg is much harder than it looks and can be extremely challenging, as one has to hyper-focus on avoiding obstacles, placing one’s wheels in the right line while managing the throttle and brakes and adapting to changing terrain.

With the help of 4×4 systems like the Tremor’s Trail Control (TC), it becomes almost zen-like. TC is like an off-road version of cruise control and works at speeds up to 30km/h. I found that by activating the four-wheel drive along with the TC tech, the system automatically manages the throttle and brakes to maintain a set speed whatever terrain I was travelling on.

And while I’ve never been a trailer girl, the “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” promises to put an end to heated fights between couples when trying to hook a trailer to their Ranger. What you won’t find in the Tremor are a whole lot of creature comforts, like a heated steering wheel and bum-warming seats, but if luxury is your vibe you’ll probably be more drawn to Ford’s other new kid on the lot, the Platinum. 

Ford Ranger

The Platinum exudes premium appeal. (Photo: FMCSA)

The Ranger Platinum

While I would probably still go for the mighty Raptor with its 3.0 turbo petrol V6 292Kw engine, the new Ranger Platinum makes a compelling argument for double-cab bakkie fans who want superior comfort and a highly capable electronically controlled permanent four-wheel drive system. 

Under the bonnet, the Platinum is underpinned by a 3.0L turbodiesel V6 engine, certainly more frugal than the Raptor’s, producing 184kW and 600Nm, mated with Ford’s 10-speed automatic gearbox. 

On the looks front, it makes a statement with its chrome grille and 20-inch alloys. Inside, you might think you’re sitting in a top-end luxurious SUV. The dashboard and doors are swathed in Black Maple with premium-looking aluminium inserts, and the quilted leather seats are super comfy and electrically adjustable. They’re also heated and ventilated, and during cold months there’s the allure of a heated steering wheel.

Ford Ranger

Quilted leather heated and cooled seats enhance the driving experience. (Photo: FMCSA)

Tech-wise it’s top-end, with added additions like a 400W inverter, which will be a blessing during load shedding, wireless charging and wireless Android Auto/Apple Carplay. On the safety front, there are two additional airbags to the Tremor’s seven – which means nine in all – and there’s also intuitive stuff like emergency autonomous braking, lane-keeping assist and autonomous parking. 

The Platinum has been dubbed South Africa’s “most luxurious double cab”. After spending a couple of hours in it on tarred roads around Pringle Bay, while banging out some retro Eminem beats on its 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, I then headed off on to more bumpy terrain and there was hardly a tremor under my heated derrière. 

Pricing 

Ford Ranger Tremor: R977,500

Platinum: R1,119,000 DM

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