The Sunday Mail
Motoring with Augustine Moyo
IT’s dog-eat-dog in the double-cab segment as rival car manufacturers churn out new models leveraging on new technologies to stay ahead of the competition.
2012 was a memorable year for Ford fans.
This is when the all-new Ford Ranger T6 was launched for the first time in Zimbabwe. The launch was in April during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.
It had to be in Bulawayo because that is where the first Ford arrived in 1911, brought by Mr Duly. And 100 years later, Dulys still remains the country’s flagship Ford dealership.
No doubt that when the Ford Ranger T6 hit the market, it caused a stir on the global motoring scene.
Also, no doubt that the Ford Ranger T6 was indeed a paradigm shift in the way trucks were designed and engineered.
Ford pioneered new technologies for what was supposed to be a truck.
The ESOF (Electronic Shift On the Fly) technology, for example, allows one to engage the T6 into four-wheel drive even at a top speed of 120 kilometres per hour without having to stop the vehicle first.
This did change the way we have come to know and accept 4×4 technology.
Zimbos love cars!
After first seeing the new Ford Ranger T6 on digital satellite TV, the first one I came face–to–face with in the streets of Harare was a South African registered “GP” truck.
Well, there was commotion and chaos as pistonheads jostled to catch a glimpse of it when it parked at Fife Avenue Spar in the Avenues in Harare.
The thrill and the excitement was so real that it became the talk of the town. Many cannot wait to buy it.
This is one truck that gave even the “indestructible truck”- Toyota – a run for its money. Locally, Toyota Zimbabwe felt the heat in terms of sales.
The new Ford Ranger T6 was selling like hot cakes and was the truck to own.
Built on the Ford F150 platform, the new Ford Ranger was bigger and wider. It was a big shift from its predecessor.
However, it came with its own challenges. This is one secret that Ford wouldn’t want you to know. The T6 had a big problem with a certain pipe that was key to the engine’s cooling system.
This pipe would usually burst, resulting in the loss of all the coolant in the vehicle’s cooling system.
To make matters worse, there was a challenge with the temperature sensor, which, after all the coolant has been lost in the vehicle, would maintain the optimum operating temperature instead of hitting “high” to give an accurate temperature reading.
This resulted in serious damage to the new generation of T6 engines that were introduced by Ford.
This was a common problem with many of the T6 trucks.
I tend to believe that Ford had also anticipated these problems because most of them had engines replaced under warranty.
To date, the losses to Ford, in engine replacements under warranty, are still “classified”.
Then there was the oil cooler. Ford replaced quite a number of these again under warranty at no cost to the customers.
Meanwhile, Toyota – which was until recently content on only being a spectator – was working on its new Hilux.
Though Ford indeed set the bar in the bakkie segment with the unveiling of the T6, its new product came with teething problems which were costly to the brand and almost cost Ford its reputation.
Right now all eyes are on the new Toyota Hilux, which has also come on the market with new range engines that will see it do away with the 3-litre D4D diesel engine and replace it with a 2,8 litre turbo-charged diesel powerplant.
With resentments and disappointments stemming from the major problems Ford Ranger T6 owners encountered, it looks like the Ford will this time around feel the heat from Toyota’s new Hilux, which was set to be launched in Zimbabwe at the end of last month.
Back to the Ford Ranger.
I got the opportunity to test drive the new 2016 Ford Ranger T6 – redesigned again by chief designer Craig Metros who designed the T6 as we have come to know it today.
As usual, all new models are launched in South Africa first; Zimbabwe is the last to launch. Even Botswana dealerships unveil new models way ahead of us.
In my opinion, the 2016 Ford Ranger is only blessed with a cosmetic facelift.
The high-end versions of the Ford ranger like the Limited and Wildtrack now come with an 8 inch touch screen with SYNC2 Technology.
Ford has dropped the rev counter and replaced it an electronic one.
They have also added driver assist features which include camera-guided lane-keeping alert, which sounds an alert if the truck drifts out of its lane and lane keeping aid, which applies some pressure on the steering wheel to guide it within its lane.
The earlier version of the T6, particularly on the Limited edition and Wildtrack, only had rear sensors, but the 2016 model now comes with front and rear parking sensors and a bigger rear view camera display.
Without taking anything away from the new 2016 Ford Ranger T6, the interior and most of the new technologies like Hill Descent Control, Hill Launch Assist, Adaptive Load Control, Traffic Sign Recognition system that are now found in the higher specs are the kind of technologies that you would expect to find in a high-spec SUV and not a truck.
The new Ranger is an option for a first-time Ford truck owner in the face of the all-new 2016 Toyota Hilux.
Time will tell if Ford has redeemed itself in view of the plethora of problems that were associated with the all-new Ranger T6 in 2012 vis-à-vis the 2016 Ford Ranger T6.
The big question remains, with the new 2016 Ford Ranger, has Ford finally got it right or Ford is still yet to get it right?
If they have got it right, has the new 2016 Ranger come just in time or it’s a little bit too late to shrug off fierce competition from the all-new 2016 Toyota Hilux?