The wholesome smile on the reshaped grille of the Ranger Stormtrak hides the truth about a customer who, as much as he is happy to be a boulevard poser, relishes the opportunity to get down and dirty far from the madding crowd.
Born out of the success of the Ranger Thunder, the Stormtrak is also a limited-edition model specifically tweaked to have an instantly recognisable façade along a suitably luxurious interior.
Black mesh grille
The external visuals include a black mesh grille with red inserts, a black insert in the lower section of the front bumper, black decals for the bonnet and doors, black roof rails and 18-inch alloy wheels finished in gloss black.
There are three-dimensional Stormtrak logos on the bottom of the front doors and the rear tailgate.
The Stormtrak gets its muscle from Ford’s 2,0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine that produces 157 kW at 3 750 r/min and 500 Nm of torque between 1 500 r/min and 2 000 r/min, driving through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Overall average fuel consumption on the test cycle was 8,4 l/100 km, giving it a tank range upwards of 900 kilometres.
The Ranger’s towing capacity of 3 500 kg remains unchanged, along with the 800 mm water wading depth and 230 mm ground clearance.
Suitable for extreme offroad conditions
While I did not do any towing during the test, I did make a point of testing the ground clearance and wading depth. The move from the standard two-wheel drive to all-wheel drive happens at the twist of a knob on the centre console.
The function can be engaged on the fly, meaning the sudden appearance of a sticky situation – such as a hard sand road suddenly becoming like beach sand – need not become messy as the change is instant with no loss of momentum.
The 10-speed gearbox, an anomaly for a bakkie, works well and seamlessly to find the right gear for the given situation. It is useful, especially when doing low-speed trickery.
And this, even with the road tyres fitted to the test unit. The 265/60 R18 wheels and tyres fitted as standard perhaps allude to the kind of life the majority of Stormtrak units will have as an urban commuter and weekend getaway vehicle, with the latter mostly on surfaced roads or high-quality dirt roads.
The road tyres make for a more stable and gentler movement on the road with less bounce associated with the fitment of off-road specific tyres. The ride quality is – as automakers like to say – saloon car quality.
Stable and gentle movement on tarred or gravel roads
Acceleration and top speed figures are singularly unimportant in this context – but the Stormtrak is no slouch in the get-up-and-go department and holds its own quite easily at highway speeds with enough left to make swift overtakes.
One of the luxuries is autonomous braking which works cooperatively with cruise control, efficiently braking the 3 200-kilogram mass vehicle well in time and allowing slow down to a standstill before driver intervention is required.
Another convenience feature is the intelligent power roller shutter for the rear load compartment that can be securely locked in any position and has an anti-pinch feature to prevent injury or damage in the event of contact with an object.
There is also an adjustable bed divider kit that makes it easy to compartmentalise the cargo area according to the size of the luggage – thus preventing goods from shifting around when driving.
Inside, furnishing the cabin is a full leather seating finished with red stitching and the Stormtrak logo embossed on the front seat backrests. The SYNC3 infotainment system with embedded navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also standard. A USB charging port in the rear-view mirror makes for easy fitment of a dash cam.
Interior furnished with leather
The Stormtrak also boasts a FordPass functionality that allows owners to remotely access numerous vehicle features from their phone – such as remote and scheduled starts to cool or heat the cabin.
Through the app, owners can also check their vehicle’s key variables, including fuel level, oil life status, tyre pressures (on models fitted with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) and mileage through the convenience of their smartphone.
Active and passive safety systems and driver aids include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Forward Collision Alert, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Keeping Alert and Lane Keeping Aid and Driver Alert System.
It also has Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist (SAPPA), which uses ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear bumpers to search for ample parking spaces to park the vehicle and then alerts the driver upon discovering a suitable spot.
Stormtrak logos at the bottom
The system then steers the vehicle into the slot using the Ranger’s electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) and sensors – a handy tool considering the 5 354 mm length and 2 163 mm width (including the large side mirrors.
It has Ford Protect as standard, comprising a 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 3-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty, a 6-year/90 000 km service plan and a service interval of 15 000 km.