The vehicles shown to local motoring media were not actual production models but imported ‘show cars’ ahead of the start of production towards mid-year.
It was also an opportunity to take a look at what R15,8-billion will buy in terms of a completely redesigned and revamped factory environment featuring state-of-the-art equipment, robotics and down to the minute just in time delivery of parts to the production line.
Currently, the existing Ranger models are being assembled on the line and going through the same set of exacting quality checks that will be applied to the new model and, at the same time working to ensure production volumes can be turned up to meet the global demand – meaning a new Ranger offline every two minutes.
Allied to this is a new Ford world programme aimed at significantly improving customer service including such things as pre-emptive online quotations for services.
Conceived under the name ‘Super Eight’, each stage helps leverage and amplify the Ford+ plan, which is focused on treating customers like family, simplifying everywhere and creating must-have products and services. Super Eight expands on this ethos, to create a more detailed understanding and robust set of actions at any given point in the customer journey.
“We’ve unpacked the customer experience to provide a holistic system that flows seamlessly and infinitely. The latest additions through ‘Super Eight’ have created new links within Ford’s existing initiatives and values,” says Kuda Takura, customer experience manager at Ford South Africa.
One of the most significant elements of the new Ranger and Everest is the Ford designed and developed 3,0-litre
“We’re offering this engine specifically because some customers told us they wanted more power and torque for towing and extreme off-roading,” says Pritika Maharaj, Ranger and Everest program manager.
Making up to 184kW of power and 600 Nm of torque in both Ranger and Everest, Ford engineers treated the 3,0-litre V6 turbo-diesel like a brand-new engine.
“We did a lot of application calibration and validation work in both the US and Australia to make sure it would meet the needs of Ranger and Everest customers,” said Maharaj.
The 3,0-litre V6 turbo-diesel also is strong in the literal sense of the word with the compacted graphite iron (CGI) block around 75% stronger and 75% stiffer than the iron used in traditional engine blocks.
The Single-Turbo and the Bi-Turbo 2.0 inline four-cylinder diesels will remain as part of the engine options.
The Single Turbo comes in two different performance levels, offering 110 kW and 350 Nm or 125 kW and 405 Nm. The 2,0-litre Bi-Turbo makes 155 kW and 500 Nm and will continue to be available in Everest as well.
Initial impressions at the local reveal showed both vehicles far exceeded the impression gleaned from the pictures seen so far. There is a high level of strength and elegance in the design execution to complement the vastly revised interiors.
However, beneath the new bodywork is an upgraded chassis riding on a wheelbase 50 mm longer and a track 50 mm wider than the prior Ranger. A hydro-formed front-end structure opens up space in the engine bay for the new V6 engine and helps future-proof the Ranger for other propulsion technologies.
Engineers moved the front wheels forward by 50 mm for a better approach angle and outboard for better off-road articulation. They also shifted the rear suspension dampers outboard of the frame rails to give drivers and passengers a better ride both on and off-road.
Inside, is a fully digital instrument panel loaded with Ford’s SYNC4 system, a factory-fitted modem to allow on the go connectivity when linked with the Ford Pass app that allows features such as remote start, vehicle status check and remote lock and unlock functions via a mobile device.
Another innovation is the side-step located behind the rear wheels, giving users much easier access to the load bin.
Additional touches include a new, tough plastic-molded bedliner, extra cargo tie-down points, and a new cargo management system designed with dividers to hold various sized items – such as timber or toolboxes.
“When we started imagining the next-gen Everest, we started not at the beginning but at the end: With our customers,” says Ian Foston, chief platform engineer for Everest. “They’re people who like adventure, recreation and being able to go out with family and friends. Whether they’re conquering sand, rocks or city life, these customers appreciate the utility, capability, and spaciousness of an SUV.”
Designers took inspiration from modern homes to bring in plush materials, premium finishes, and ambient lighting all in areas where customers can appreciate them the best for the interior that unashamedly propels the top-of-the-line Platinum variant into the premium luxury orbit.
Everest has a full-width coast-to-coast instrument panel and center console with dual cupholder recesses, plus dash-mounted ‘pop out’ cupholders for front-seat occupants.
Access to the third-row seats is much easier thanks to second-row seats that slide further forward than before.
Next-gen Ford Everest has a water wading ability up to 800 mm and a maximum braked trailer towing capability of up to 3 500 kg, while space in the engine bay allows for a second battery to power aftermarket accessories.
Detailed features and specifications of the models designated for the local market will be announced at the time of launch.