Saturday 16 October 2010

New Car: 2011 Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50

Ford and Mazda have debuted their 2011 Ranger and BT-50 pick-up trucks at the Australian International Motor Show.

The 2011 Ranger is bigger than before and features a three-bar grille, distinctive front bumper and numerous chrome accents (on mid-spec to range-topping models).

While the cabin is basic and robust, it is also ergonomically designed too. As Debbie Pascoe, Ford's colour and trim manager, describes "The typical pickup driver needs space and we designed an interior that is comfortable, easy to slide in and out of, with controls that are larger to accommodate work gloves, for example. When you design a truck interior, special considerations have to be taken to ensure the cabin will be just as durable as the rest of the vehicle."

Living under the bonnet are three new engines. The 2.2 litre Duratorq TDCi I4 produces 148bhp (150PS) and 375Nm (277 lb-ft) of torque. Next up is a 3.2 litre Duratorq TDCi I5 with 197bhp (200PS) and 470Nm (347 lb-ft) of torque. Only one petrol engine is available; a 164bhp (166PS) 2.5 litre Duratec I4 which can be configured for E100 flex-fuel capability as well as CNG and LPG.

Three transmissions are available too; a 6 speed automatic, 6 speed manual and 5 speed manual. Four-wheel drive models have an electronically controlled transfer case that allows drivers to shift from 4x2 to 4x4 as needed. Furthermore, an electric locking differential is aids off-road adventures.

New equipment such as Adaptive Load Control, Trailer Sway Control, Voice Control and rear-view camera will be optional. Features like ESP, x6 airbags, electric door mirrors, steel wheels, black door mirrors and handles will be standard on UK base-spec models. The UK will only receive diesel engines as petrol off-roaders don’t sell well.

Production for the global compact truck will begin Summer 2011 in Rayong, Thailand, for the Asia Pacific region, while Ford prepares plants in Argentina and South Africa to serve Latin America and Europe. Eventually the new Ranger will be sold in 180 countries, excluding the United States and Canada.

European sales will start in 2012. Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, said: "The new Ranger is an exciting and dynamic vehicle that will undoubtedly raise the bar in the pickup market. The scope of its capability and technology are further evidence of how powerful the One Ford initiative is in helping us globally to develop a whole range of all-new class-leading vehicles. We look forward to bringing new Ranger to European customers by 2012 and I am confident it will exceed their expectations."

The BT-50 is based on the Ford Ranger, and features a typical front fascia, bulging wheel-arches, and wrap-around taillights. Overall, it remains loyal to Mazda's outgoing Nagare design language.

Whereas the Ranger cabin is robust and simple, the BT-50’s is sporty and elegant. The same engines used in the Ranger will feature in the BT-50.

The BT-50 won’t be sold in the UK due the very poor sales of the outgoing model, the current model only sold a few hundred units before getting axed in 2008. European sales will start mid-2011.

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