Posted on October 15, 2010 at 12:00 am
It’s no secret that the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 (also called the Fighter) are technically similar. That’s because they are jointly developed by Ford and Mazda which established collaborative ties in the late 1980s. Older readers will recall the Ford Laser and Mazda 323 ‘twins’ as well as the Ford Telstar and Mazda 626. In recent times, there have also been the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and of course, the new Ford Fiesta and Mazda2.
But where in the early years, there was a lot of debate as to how much of the design was Ford’s and how much as Mazda’s, the issue is rather blurred these days as both companies collaborate in many different aspects, drawing on the strengths of each company. It’s the smarter way to get an all-new model since the cost of developing an all-new product is very, very high. The two companies also take the collaborative effort further by using the same factory to build the Ranger and BT-50 and in certain areas, share components so that there are better economies of scale to push down prices.
However, each company has its own philosophy and while Mazda has Zoom-Zoom, Ford has always presented the Ranger with ‘Built Ford Tough’ credentials. So it’s not surprising to see that there are distinctive styling differences in the exterior of the all-new Ranger which has been unveiled at the Australian Motorshow today. The all-new model – destined to be sold in 180 markets on five continents – is said to mark the complete transformation of the pick-up which was originally launched in 1987 as Ford’s ‘ASEAN truck’
At the unveiling today, the Double Cab model which serves as the flagship version was displayed but the Ranger family will include three bodystyles, 4×2 and 4×4 configurations, high- and low-rider models and a broad series array to answer every pickup owner’s requirements
The new Ranger is the latest in a wave of global products coming from the One Ford product strategy – and is the first global pickup truck to extend the Built Ford Tough reputation that originated in the United States with the best-selling Ford F-Series lineup.
“It’s not often in the pick-up truck world that designers get the opportunity to re-invent a vehicle from the ground up,” said the model’s chief designer, Craig Metros, a 24-year Ford veteran who has had an influential hand in Ford pick-up design around the world (he was previously design chief for the F-150 in North America).
Mr. Metros characterizes the powerful, confident design of the new Ranger as ‘21st Century Tough’, the result of a design process that answers pick-up owners’ wants and expectations from all around the world. “We explored a bandwidth ranging from Ford North America’s very traditional and much liked F-Series to influences from Europe’s very successful kinetic design language,” he said.
The designers focused on the conditions that the vehicle would be subjected to in various regions of the world. In Europe, it is often used as a sport pick-up so there are versions equipped with leather interiors, larger wheels and all the features you would find in a luxury car. In others parts of the world, including Africa and central Asia, or among fleet buyers, such Ford trucks are mainly utilitarian so there’s an interior which can be washed out.
|Interior of the new Ranger is said to embrace new influences to achieve its contemporary personality
||3.2-litre turbodiesel is one new option available
Spacious and accommodating inside, the new Ranger has a contemporary look and feel with features and comforts that are normally found in passenger cars. The new pick-up reflects expectations for dual use – work and family – that unite truck owners around the world. Ranger Interior dimensions have been stretched with a smart, flexible door architecture for better accessibility in different cab styles.
Like the exterior, the new Ranger’s interior explores the ‘Built Ford Tough’ design ethos and embraces new influences to achieve its contemporary personality. It is as expressive as it is functional, and more driver-oriented. “We looked outside the automotive industry at contemporary designs in many consumer products,” Mr. Metros explained. “From power tools to wristwatches, we wanted to apply that same sort of ruggedness and purposeful styling to the interior.”
Mr. Metros also revealed that Casio’s G-Shock watch was a major influence when it came to designing the instrument panel. “This approach encases delicate instruments within a strong protective housing. We were inspired by this design language as it applies to a tough truck, and created similar elements, including little chaplets to the outside of the cluster, to give it a more rugged appearance,” he said.
Housed within the console is a new short throw gear shifter on manual transmission models that reinforces the sporty nature of the interior design and Ranger’s fun-to-drive characteristics. A new, lever-style parking brake also has been adopted on the new Ranger for optimal driver orientation.
“With the new Ranger, we’ve progressed with a truck that is fresh, modern and right for the times,” said Mr. Metros. “This newest Ranger is modern, capable and dynamic, and at the same time lives up to its roots as a very rugged truck.”
No word from Auto ConneXion about availability in Malaysia but if the Mazda version is not going to be here this year, then it is unlikely that the Ford version will be either since both originate in CBU form from the Thai plant (Ford stopped assembly of the Ranger in Malaysia in June 2008).
Related articles: History of the Ford Ranger | How Fords are ‘Built Tough’ | The current Ford Ranger
Talk about this model in the MTM Forum
To know more about Ford products and services in Malaysia, visit www.ford.net.my
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