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Geneva show: Ranger goes Wildtrak

Wildtrak: Top-spec variant of Australian-designed Ranger will debut at Geneva tonight.

Flagship Wildtrak version of Ford’s Australian-designed Ranger emerges

Ford logo1 Mar 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

FORD has revealed the range-topping Wildtrak version of its next-generation Australian designed and engineered Ranger utility ahead of its global Geneva motor show debut tonight.

Packing high-tech gadgetry including Bluetooth audio streaming and voice control for the audio, phone and air-conditioning systems, a rear-view camera, satellite-navigation via a five-inch colour screen and USB/iPod connectivity, the Wildtrak is certain to top the all-new Ranger line-up when it goes on sale Down Under in the third quarter of this year.

“Wildtrak is part of our current Ranger line-up, so it’s safe to assume it will continue to be,” Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead McAlary told GoAuto.

Also included in Ford’s European Ranger announcement were a number of fresh technical details about the first ute designed under the ‘One Ford’ product strategy, including a hefty 3350kg towing capacity, impressive 800mm water-fording capability and ground clearance of up to 230mm.

Although Ford Australia has so far stopped short of claiming some variants will offer best-in-class towing capacity – as Ford has in Europe – the Ranger (and therefore its mechanical twin, Mazda’s new BT-50, which should go on sale here around the same time) should also set new towing and wading benchmarks in Australia’s one-tonne ute segment.

27 center imageAustralia’s newest ute is the Volkswagen Amarok dual-cab, which was launched last week and, like the Ranger and BT-50, comes standard with electronic stability control, offers a 2800 towing capacity and 500mm wading depth.

Following the world debut of the Ranger at the Sydney motor show last October, Ford Australia underlined its three-tonne-plus towing capacity in January by releasing a YouTube video of the all-new ute towing a 60-year-old British-built R711 locomotive from Steamrail Victoria’s workshops in Newport, Victoria.

While single-cab, automatic and petrol models will not be added to the Amarok dual-cab 4x4 and 4x2 range until late this year at the earliest, the Ranger is expected to launch this year with 4x4 and 4x2 drivetrains and single-cab and double-cab configurations.

Ford has now confirmed the Ranger will be available in Europe by November in three different body styles with 4x4 and 4x2 drivetrains, two ride heights and up to four specification grades.

On top of its luxury car-like infotainment technology, the most expensive Wildtrak variant will also come with 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, sports rollover bar and unique badging and graphics.

The Ranger Wildtrak’s “dark sporty look” continues inside, where a special “hydrographic” centre console finish around the audio unit aims to resemble carbon-fibre, and the Wildtrak Orange leather and woven cloth seat trim with contrast stitching is inspired by sports wear and features ventilated sections.

Ford claims the dual-cab Ranger cabin will deliver class-leading spaciousness, 23 storage spaces, a deep centre console that can keep up to six beverage cans cool and a glovebox big enough to store a 16-inch laptop.

The Wildtrak will likely be motivated by the most powerful of Ranger’s three engines, the 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel transplanted from the Ford Transit. The other Ranger engines are a 122kW/226Nm 2.5-litre version of Ford’s four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol and a 2.2-litre 110kW/375Nm four-cylinder diesel.

Matched with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions and an 80-litre fuel tank, Ford says its Duratorq TDCi diesel engines will allow the Ranger to deliver among the longest driving ranges in its segment.

Designed and engineered by Ford Australia, the new Ranger will be produced in South Africa, Argentina and Thailand (from where Australia’s version will be sourced) for more than 180 markets globally.

“Wildtrak’s aggressive look and bold new graphics are a perfect fit for those who appreciate a sporty and more expressive image,” said Ranger chief designer Craig Metros. “It will look fantastic transporting the latest quad bike or jet-ski for their weekend getaways.”

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All future models

Ranger pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.