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Ranger throws down the gauntlet

No compromise: Ford is confident that it has done everything possible to make its new Ranger leader of the pack.

Ford asserts its safety, dynamic and towing superiority for new-generation Ranger

18 Oct 2010

MONTHS before anybody outside of the Blue Oval inner sanctum can drive a production-ready T6 Ranger, Ford is making bold claims about class-leading safety and on-road dynamics.

Australian-delivered T6s – made in Thailand – will have ESC stability control as standard, while side and side curtain airbags will be available “and affordable”, said a Ford spokesman.

Aided by a 20 per cent stiffer frame compared to the current Ranger, the newcomer is claimed to bring “bring new levels of safety” thanks to innovations like Trailer Sway Control and Adaptive Load Control that work with the ESC and anti-lock brakes to maintain control.

27 center imageFrom top: Ford T6 engineering manager Stephen Presser, Ford group vice president of product development Derek Kuzak, Ford T6 vehicle line director Gary Boes.

Lap-sash seatbelts for all occupants and seatbelt warnings for those up front further underline the safety message, while a more pedestrian-friendly bonnet and optional rear-view camera provide additional protection for those in the immediate vicinity of the big Ford truck.

In terms of dynamics, an all-new chassis has been developed to provide both workhorse toughness and driving pleasure.

The traditional body-on-frame chassis construction, 230mm ground clearance, deeper water-fording capability than its competitors and up to 1500kg payload capacity take care of the workhorse aspect, while coil-over-shock front suspension, hydraulically powered rack-and-pinion steering, and a comprehensive rethink of the leaf-spring rear suspension system look are claimed to improve the driving.

Ford is saving the finer details for next year’s launch, but T6 engineering manager Stephan Presser told us it will be the best driving truck of its kind, adding that the new active safety aids enhance an already well-rounded vehicle.

With input from Mazda, the T6 was tested in built-up urban areas to improve manoeuvrability and control. One result is a reduced 11.8-metre turning circle (4x4 versions: 12.4m), while steering response is helped by having only 3.5 turns lock to lock.

Other comfort-related progressions over the old Ranger include tailored suspension tuning and ‘hydro’ mounts for the body to isolate movement and reduce noise/vibration/harshness.

A public stoush with Volkswagen Australia over claims of the Ranger’s towing capacity against the German manufacturer’s Amarok – another star debutante at last week’s Australian International Motor Show – highlights the importance of the Ranger to Ford.

Commencing three years ago as the largest automotive design and engineering export project ever undertaken in Australia, and partly funded by both the state and federal governments, the T6 became the first truck created through the One Ford global product development strategy.

Ford’s global product development chief, Derrick Kuzak, underlined the role played by Ford Australia.

“Our engineering team in Australia had full access to our global capabilities, testing facilities and, most importantly, pick-up truck knowledge in the entire Ford organisation,” said Mr Kuzak.

Though Mazda provided the platform chassis architecture for its BT-50 version, Ford led the design and vehicle engineering for both brands.

The Ranger Double Cab will be one of the most far-reaching models in the entire Ford stable, heading to over 180 markets globally, and will be joined by the still-secret Regular and Extended Cab versions, as well as an SUV five and/or seven-seater variant.

Only North America will miss out on the T6, instead staying with the F150 – the world’s best selling vehicle for over 33 years.

Mr Kuzak said Ford research worldwide shows that reliability is paramount.

“It has to be capable and reliable like no other product we have, because if the truck has downtime our customers can’t do their jobs.”

Ford is so confident of its new truck terms like “world class” are being applied to the way it works and plays.

T6 vehicle line director Gary Boes said the new Ranger was “a no-compromise project that takes advantage of Ford’s tremendous global pickup truck design and engineering expertise”.

“We set out not only to meet the expectations of today’s buyers but to exceed those expectations,” said Mr Boes. “That’s why we believe so strongly that the market will recognise that this truck stands for leadership.

“It has personality it has Ford DNA and feels like a Ford it looks pretty big but it is nimble and it sure is fun to drive.”

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