Port St Johns - Bakkies, as we call them, or to be more specific, double cabs. We can’t seem to get enough of them as the monthly sales reports show and when a “limited edition” gets added to the range, manufacturers struggle to keep up with the demand.
The latest variation comes out of Ford’s Ranger stable called the FX4, which if you’re not into cars sounds like a feature or character out of a Marvel series.
Come to think of it, in black, it could very well be the chosen mode of transport for one of those characters and with the FordPass Connect App, they could use it for all those special power tricks they get up to.
The FX4 comes hot on the heels of the Ranger Thunder which has proven to be a very popular choice among buyers.
Based on the XLT 2.0 litre single turbo, the FX4 is more than just a few stickers slapped on the body and alloys planted on the four corners.
The black grille comes from the Thunder parts bin, sans the red detailing, with integrated LED headlights and daytime running lights. Black mirrors, black door handles and black 18 inch alloys are complemented by bold red strategically placed FX4 decals.
The load bay receives a new tubular sports bar, a drop in bedliner for protection, six tie down points and a 12 volt socket, that if you’re going to be using it as a proper leisure vehicle is a fantastic addition.
The interior boasts its own personality with a soft-touch leather trimmed dashboard with red stitching carried through to the steering wheel and red embossed logos on the front seats.
Sync3 comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
Connectivity is all the rage and not to be outdone all new Rangers coming off the line in Pretoria will be fitted with FordPass Connect controlled via the FordPass App.
It’s a handy App that will allow even more possibilities as more R&D is put into it going forward. For now as long as there is internet connectivity, it lets you do things like lock and unlock doors remotely, start the engine remotely to get the climate control operating 15 minutes before you climb in, find its location, find a dealer, book a service, check fuel levels and oil life, search for parking and provides direct access to Ford’s roadside assistance.
It also allows for wireless vehicle software updates.
That’s all good and well, but to get the real gist of the vehicle there’s some driving to do and in the case of the local launch that meant spending two days driving parts of the Transkei’s Wild Coast.
The underpinnings are exactly the same as the XLT derivatives so you get a 2.0 litre single turbo diesel mill which produces 132kW and 420Nm of torque matched to the well-proven 10-speed automatic transmission offering sport and manual shifts.
The FX4 is available in 4x2 and 4x4 but to tackle unmaintained Eastern Cape Roads 4x4 was called for.
Heading from the airstrip through Port St Johns you get to see first hand what no maintenance, no upgrades, missing money and lack of leadership does to a community. I passed through there 15 years ago and it was dodgy then but now it’s a derelict den falling apart piece by piece.
It’s a pity because it could be a flourishing town thriving as a result of tourism.
Beyond that though The Wild Coast is an absolute gem, with unspoilt beaches, magnificent views from cliffs and ideal roads for the FX4 with much of it driven in 4H which can be done on the fly.
On a couple of sections my driving partner and I engaged 4L more to test it by choosing a difficult line as well as downhill descent control which you can set with the cruise control buttons.
The FX4, like its siblings is an extremely capable 4x4 with diff lock for those very hard to get places and I have no doubt it will be well received by potential buyers looking for something a little different.
And do yourself a favour, if you own a Ranger, drive to the Wild Coast, engage the transfer case and get to understand why it’s called such.
2.0 Single Turbo FX4 10AT 4x2 R618 900
2.0 Single Turbo FX4 10AT 4x4 R687 900
All Ranger models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty and a six year/90 000km service plan.