Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Double Cab 2012 Review

December 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Utes are a fantastic invention. Serving duty for all manner of tradespeople, farmers, hardcore dudes with motocross bikes, and more, they’ve made life convenient for those that need to transport filthy stuff without hitching up a trailer, and without getting grubbiness in the driving compartment. They (mostly) drive better than a van, and with the right tyres can deal with some really rough terrain.

However, they have a dark side. Leaf spring suspension is less than ideal on the road, they’re often noisy and rough, you don’t have the luxury of a boot to hide valuables in, and for all the convenience they give you, the manufacturers are acutely aware that price is a huge factor when you’re buying a work vehicle. They’re less of an emotive purchase therefore they’ve often been lacking in features that car drivers take for granted just to keep the price down.

The new Ranger challenges this, though. It’s an improved model that’s making some of the other utes look decidedly 1999. Four things set this ute apart from the others:

Gearbox: The gearbox is a six-speed manual which has (in ute standards) a very short throw. Whereas many ute gear changes feel like you’re rowing a boat, this reminds me of my old WRX STI – notchy, needs a bit of a firm hand, but very satisfying.

Looks: Channeling the brawn of its bigger American brother, the F150, the Ranger makes many other trucks look, well, puny. Check it out next to the Mitsubishi Triton in the photo gallery and you’ll see that the Triton looks like it was starved as a child. I caught other ute drivers giving it the eye on numerous occasions.

Ride and handling: the previous model was reasonably accomplished, but this seems better. We drove the top spec Wildtrak last time, and in this new model, which is the model down, at times I was under the illusion that I was driving a car. It’s never going to slalom like a Focus Sport, but for general cruising on the motorway and reasonable quality roads, you’re going to make smooth progress. My significant other even fell asleep in the passenger seat on the trip back fromThames where some of these photos were taken. We didn’t have any mud tyres and it was raining, therefore no off-road excursions were taken. However, it has some serious off-road specs comparing it to other utes available, so it appears that it could handle what’s thrown at it. Continue reading “Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Double Cab 2012 Review” »

Ford Focus Sport 2011 Review

November 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

I had a quick ride in an ancient Focus while I was testing the new Ford Focus Sport just to get my bearings on exactly what has improved. You tend to forget the pace of change in cars, and something that was perfectly fine 10 years ago now seems like it’s barely better than a carriage pulled by a flatulent horse.

That’s not saying that the vintage Focus should have been sent to the glue factory, but it just felt low budget. Enter the new Focus Sport, champing at the bit to prove it’s a cabello blanco and able to dance on its hind quarters.

The Focus Sport packs a 2-litre 125kW petrol engine that produces 202Nm of torque. It’s no racehorse, but there’s plenty to get it galloping along. You get 17-inch alloys which are shod in 215/50R17 tyres. There’s a space saver in the boot. Interestingly, the front brake discs on the Sport are smaller than on the Trend 2-litre diesel hatch, though this could be because of the diesel’s 1500kg towing capacity as opposed to the petrol’s 500kg. Continue reading “Ford Focus Sport 2011 Review” »

2013 Ford Mustang teased online

November 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2013 Ford Mustang is on its way and is widely expected to be put on show later this week at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. To get Mustang fans all hyped up the blue oval has dropped a teaser image showing some of the changes for the new model.

The four separate shots include cropped images of redesigned head- and taillights as well as upgraded instrumentation with Ford’s Track App display. The new Mustang is expected to borrow styling cues from the current Shelby GT500 model and this will mean more a more aggressive aesthetic.

Aerodynamics are also set to improve with the addition of a new chin splitter and rear spoiler. But for many fans, what’s in store for the new 2013 GT500 has them really excited. Continue reading “2013 Ford Mustang teased online” »

Ford reveals five-door Fiesta ST concept

November 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford first previewed its upcoming Fiesta ST in concept form at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show with a three-door version of the hatch.

Now, Ford has a more production-ready model for the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show, it’s a hatchback-variant and will give Ford fans a better taste of the hot hatch.

In Ford’s official press release it states that “The five-door Fiesta ST Concept shows the promise for a globally available performance model.”and goes on to say, “The Fiesta ST Concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model [the Focus ST]. The potential for delivering the ST experience to an even wider audience is laid bare by this exciting new concept,” he added.

Despite these near-assurances Ford hasn’t officially confirmed production for the Fiesta ST.

Like it’s three-door stablemate the five-door concept gets the same styling treatment with a bespoke front end, aerodynamic bodykit, lowered suspension and flared wheel arches with 17-inch alloy wheels. Continue reading “Ford reveals five-door Fiesta ST concept” »

New Ford Ranger is first ute to earn 5-Star safety

October 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The latest round of Euro NCAP safety testing has revealed that Ford’s new Ranger is the first pickup to achieve the organisation’s highest five-star rating. The 2012 Ranger finished with an overall score of 89%, which is the best ever recorded by a pickup truck in the European testing.

To break it down, the Ranger scored 96 percent for adult occupant safety, 86 percent for child occupant safety and 81 percent for pedestrian safety. The pickup’s “safety assist” systems also achieved a 71 percent score. The most impressive figure here is the 81 percent for pedestrian safety, this is the best rating ever for pedestrian protection among the cars tested by the Euro NCAP since it was established in 1997. A surprising result for a high-riding ute.

Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen, said: “With such good pedestrian protection, the Ford Ranger is undoubtedly raising the bar of safety in the category of pickup trucks, which had until now not proven to be the safest.” Continue reading “New Ford Ranger is first ute to earn 5-Star safety” »

Ford Territory Titanium 2011 Review

October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Since its release in 2004 the Ford Territory has become one of the success stories of the Australian car manufacturing industry. It’s found a home in the garages of many families here in NZ as well as across the ditch and has even performed duties as an emergency response vehicle. But after seven years cruising the streets how can the Territory stay desirable in a SUV market that’s packed with machinery from Japan and Europe? By offering a diesel engine option for the first time for starters, backed up by a modernising facelift, equipment upgrades and a greater emphasis on refinement. Has Ford’s $230 million dollar investment in the new Territory paid off? Car and SUV was certainly impressed by the 2011 Territory at its launch event earlier this year and got some more seat time to take a closer look.

Looks are a good place to start because in terms of styling the Territory has really shifted up a gear. The familiar proportions remain but there are now some calculated injections of Ford’s current kinetic design language. At the front there’s an all-new face with new upper and lower grilles, the headlights, bonnet and front bumper have also been replaced. These fresh touches give a wider and more muscular frontal appearance. At the rear Ford has deftly wrapped the three quarter glass around to the rear windscreen, hiding the D-pillar and giving it a slick look. New horizontal taillights replace the previous vertical design and also wrap into the rear guards. There are some more subtle general tweaks as well, like vents on the front fenders and indicator repeaters in the wing mirrors. Our tested top-spec Titanium model was dressed up further with chrome trim on the front grille, LED front lights, tinted glass and 18-inch Y-Spoke alloy wheels. In terms of design it’s a very successful facelift, the 2011 Territory looks ‘right now’ modern and dynamic while retaining its same staunch road presence. Continue reading “Ford Territory Titanium 2011 Review” »

2013 Ford Escape to receive four-cylinder engines only

October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The upcoming 2013 Ford Escape is set for its official reveal at next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show, but details on engine options have already leaked out. According to unconfirmed reports the next Escape will be fitted with three four-cylinder engine options for global markets and two of those engines will use turbocharging.

The base model Escape will be fitted with the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine already working in the current model Escape but its the two new EcoBoost motors that will be of more interest. The turbocharged 1.6-litre unit is already making waves in Europe and will motivate the mid-spec Escape. This fuel-efficient mill outputs around 135kW of power. Continue reading “2013 Ford Escape to receive four-cylinder engines only” »

Ford NZ announces range and pricing for new 2012 Ford Ranger ute

October 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford New Zealand has just announced the available range and pricing for the all-new 2012 Ford Ranger ute.

Using a more powerful diesel engine the new Ranger features fresh brawny styling and a broad range of equipment. It will be available in 2WD and 4WD forms with three cab variants – Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab. There are three trim levels on offer, the entry spec XL, mid-range XLT and top-dog Wildtrack model. The Ranger is available in a wide range of configurations and pricing varies from $34,690 for the base model manual 2WD model all the way to $66,290 for the Wildtrack 4WD double cab with 6-speed automatic transmission.

“Designed from the ground up, the highly anticipated all-new Ranger, available in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, has been comprehensively developed to meet the needs of New Zealand ute and light truck customers,” said Neale Hill, Managing Director of Ford New Zealand. “The creation and design of the all new Ranger involved an Australian-based, four-year development programme, involving almost 500 engineers from around the Ford world. Continue reading “Ford NZ announces range and pricing for new 2012 Ford Ranger ute” »