What did the Romans do for us? Amongst other things they built roads along some pretty treacherous, freezing, windswept Welsh hillsides so their foot slogging centurions could carry on invading our lands.
Nearly 2000 years later we are still driving those roads, preferably in off roaders, which I was doing in the Brecon Beacons for the launch of new models of the Ford Ranger. What those poor soldiers wouldn’t have given to be tucked up in a warm Ranger cab because it is pretty wild along Sarn Helen even on a sunny winter’s day.
So new Ford Rangers, but I am sensing confusion from those who have seen previews of next year’s all new pick up on social media. Okay this is not THE new model, merely new names to keep interest alive because the next generation Ranger will not arrive here until 2023.
That said Ford has gone to extreme lengths to promote the additional models producing a film inspired by the classic Clint Eastwood spaghetti western called The Good, the Bad and the Bad-RSE and starring the top of the range Raptor Special Edition. It was even shot on the original film set in the mountains of Almeria Province in Spain.
Raptor SE joins Wolftrak, MS-RT and Stormtrak targeting life-stylers switching from SUVs to double cab pick-ups and the special edition is a real bad boy. It has a beefed up chassis and bespoke multi-link rear suspension, sits 51mm taller than the standard Ranger, is pimped up with blue and red racing style stripes and bulging plastic clad wheel arches and will set you back £54k. Ouch!
Power comes from a 209bhp bi-turbo 2-litre diesel engine mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox that is shared with the Mustang sports car. This is not the best model for trade or a farmer because the payload is halved and towing capacity down 1000kg.
Even though Raptor SE will tackle the toughest of off road challenges reality can be found in the everyday models which have leaf spring suspension upping the payload to just over 1100kg while towing capacity is 3,500kg, the norm for pick-ups.
The bi-turbo engine is a lot more powerful and more refined than the Isuzu D-Max tested last month with a whopping 500Nm or torque and although the 10-speed auto sounds over the top it provides smooth changes and is fairly quick off the mark.
The cheaper Wolftrak model is offered with a 167bhp power train and a six-speed manual option. It has a healthy 420Nm of torque which is 60Nm up on the D-Max and more than adequate for most heavy duty needs. Expect to average around 32mpg and 29-30mpg for the bi-turbo.
As readers will know I am not a fan of touchscreen heating controls but I will make an exception with the Ranger because it is the easiest I have come across. If you need quick demisting, temperature or fan adjustments there are physical switches in the centre console.
The pick-up market has been turned upside down with only Ford, Toyota, Isuzu and SSangYong left and Ford is hell bent on making sure it stays as the UK’s best seller with special edition models taking the range to nine.
As we found out on the test drive Ranger has enough all wheel drive technology to tackle the most demanding of conditions whether it is traversing rocks, descending steep gullies or ploughing through a mud bath thanks to the low range setting, diff lock and hill descent control, and is likely to stay at the top of the pick-up league until more competition arrives.
Ranger Limited Double Cab
£41,455 (starts £28,785)
2-litre Bi-turbo diesel; 209bhp
0-62mph 9secs; 112mph
Insurance group 39