October 16, 2010

Sydney show special: Out of the sky, two new utes

The Ranger slipped out from under a Ford-blue suspended container, amid smoke, loud music and special lighting. A full dose of both "yee" and "ha".
The BT-50's glide to earth was much more serene.

What's this thing Ford and stablemate  Mazda have about trucks emerging from the sky? At the world launch of the new Ranger at the old shipbuilding facility on Cockatoo Island, Sydney, the new truck emerged from the bottom of a suspended-in-mid-air container, while at the motor show a couple of days later, the Mazda BT-50 glided to earth through a flock of origami birds.

That plastic shield's going to be gone before lunchtime on the first trail and the intercooler still hangs low in the nose, waiting to be whacked.
They have styling differences, particularly front and rear, but are much the same under the skin, each boasting a choice of three engines, including the range-topping five-cylinder 3.2 litre Duratorq turbodiesel with 147kW and 470Nm of torque, taking what would seem to be a lead in the torque war that's been going on among Japanese utes. Neither Ford nor Mazda has said it will take this top engine, but surely they won't be able to resist at least in a top-end model; next diesel engine down is the 375Nm 110kW 2.2 litre four.

Mazda loves the nose but will it appeal to the 'real men' who buy most utes?
But taking the torque-meister may be in vain. We won't see either vehicle until well into next year, by which time Nissan may have decided to import its Navara, the current torque champ at 450Nm, with the new 170kW 3.0 V6 diesel producing a marketing department's dream 550Nm of torque running through a seven-speed auto. Nissan NZ MD John Manley told 4wdNewz, "We are currently evaluating both the Navara and Pathfinder with the new engine. If we take the 550 it will be in addition to the 450."

Will Ranger, BT-50 have lost their top torque status to Nissan before they even hit town?
Meanwhile, the Ranger and BT-50, both larger than their predecessors, bring to the market lots of useful features for the kind of folk who follow 4wdNewz. There'll be a six-speed auto with sequential manual and grade logic, a rear-view camera, rear park assist, trailer sway control and adaptive load control, with other stuff yet to be revealed. Stability and electronic traction control are on the menu, as is a mechanical rear cross-axle diff lock. Both have more rear legroom in dual-cab models and more interior space generally.

The Ranger will be sold in some 180 markets, the BT-50 somewhat fewer. The two main markets that miss out will be the US and Canada.

Thoughtful feature from Ford for those who might carry power equipment under a canopy, a 12v outlet built into the optional tray liner.
The Ranger interior looks pretty decent … and look where they've put the handbrake after, like, a zillion years.

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