Tag Archives: Ford

Ranger runs wild in the city

Housing developers need to start building larger car porches for residential homes judging from the increasing preference for pickups as a family vehicle.    

fordranger-jan2015-0010It was not too long ago when these pickup trucks used to be exclusive to those sun-baked construction-site workers. They would literally jump up onto these colossal grime-covered off-road sloggers, throw their hefty toolbox behind and dive head on towards the hostile muddy terrains these vehicles call home.

That visualisation of a four-wheel-drive vehicle has increasingly changed over the years as more and more families rely on them these days for their family, recreational and daily use. While it evidently remains colossal and tough in appearance, its’ comfort, interior features and capabilities have evolved substantially since.

Leveraging on modern engine technology, passenger comfort and ease of drivability, today’s pickups are equally comfortable ferrying the children around, hitting the shopping mall or accompanying the family for a weekend getaway, as they are if utilised for carrying bulky construction materials or for towing around machineries and other heavy equipment.

fordranger-jan2015-0020Echoing this growing option for car owners is the Ford Ranger 2.2L XLT. Although almost four years on since it was first unveiled to the world, this four-wheel-drive pickup remarkably still manages to preserve its contemporary overall design and balanced exterior. Its most recent tweaks were to incorporate the handy electronic stability programme as well as an added peace of mind for parents with the IsoFix device for child-seat attachment at the back row.

Driven by a 2,198cc commonrail direct injection diesel engine and managed by a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode that enables manual interjection, which I relied on frequently having found the auto gear ratio too distanced between each shift, the truck was perfect for our unfavourable flood-prone city road conditions; very often resembling their off-road counterparts

Though slightly deterred by its unhurried acceleration, I did however found the truck to very responsive when it hit the higher gears. When on the wide and long expressway, I can barely tell the difference between driving a compact SUV and this pickup.

fordranger-jan2015-0002Having conducted this test drive during the recent monsoon season, the Ranger’s 233mm ground clearance and 800mm water wading depth offered plenty of assurance, notably when this vehicle was used by the writer as part of a small aid convoy that assisted in transporting food and other essential items to several communities affected by the floods in Pahang.

For its primary intended purpose of being a workhorse and with a maximum torque of 375Nm at 2,500rpm, it can comfortably handle up to 1,341kg of goods on its back and is capable of towing up to 3,350kg behind it. Alongside handy features like load sensing proportionate valve, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist and hill descent control, the Ranger is clearly designed for serious work

fordranger-jan2015-0018Seated on an 80-litre capacity fuel tank, the truck comes equipped with several features for a more lifestyle touch including auto rain sensing wiper system, electrochromatic inner rear view mirror, cruise control, remote keyless entry and a 4.2” colour display media/entertainment system incorporated with Bluetooth, USB port and voice control. It would have been a tad more impressive if the display console was larger and had more content to display on it.

Putting on the city dweller’s hat, there are a couple of trivial aspects to the car that I found wanting. First off is the comparatively smaller interior cabin space to fit in the whole family and their individual luggage, when equated to the horde of SUVs presently available.

fordranger-jan2015-0015Settled on a child-seat at the back, the hyperactive 2-yeard-old was not able to fully stretch out his legs despite mummy pushing her front seat as far front as possible. As most parents would agree, on an extended journey, an uncomfortable and disgruntled kid is the last thing you need at the back of car.

Possibly just a personal aversion or most likely unfamiliarity with such vehicles, another grouse I had was the distinctive smell and slight clattering emitted from its diesel engine. Adding these mundane whimpers together with the lack of a rear-view reverse camera – vital for such as lofty vehicle – are what prevented me from instantaneously trading in my timeworn jalopy for this RM99,465 ride.

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Sporting touch to city driving

By Christopher Tan.

With all kinds of hands-free contraptions on board this latest sports utility vehicle, it is hardly surprising that the driver will have time to comb through the mini refrigerator on board.  

FordEcoSport-sep2014-0001When the enthusiastic Sime Darby Auto Connexion’s representative pointed out the car’s hands-free phone call facility and hands-free music player, I merely responded with a polite nod while quietly countering: “Ok, nothing new here.”

Next, he mentioned that the system also comes with the ability to read out your mobile phone’s incoming text messages; I found myself paying a tad closer attention to his ongoing demonstration of car’s key features. But it was the “cool” air-conditioned glove box that finally captured my full interest to the car’s content.

Ford’s latest EcoSport is all about delivering convenience to the driver and passengers on board. What else can get more useful than having a few cans of chilled drinks readily available to four sun-drenched treasure hunters on a 400 kilometre drive?

I figure that this compact SUV’s interior designer would likely have been an outdoor person based on the inclusion of 20 storage compartments located throughout the car, which proved handy for our team’s storage of endless titbits, chocolate bars and caffeine-filled beverages.

The EcoSport aims to boost the American carmaker’s presence in the fast-growing B-segment crossover market, particularly in this part of the region. Designed on the same platform as its hugely popular Fiesta and rolled off from its production facility in Thailand, it is available in two variants – Trend and Titanium.

FordEcoSport-sep2014-0014Driven by a 1.5 litre Ti-VCT engine offering 142 Nm at 4,400 rpm, the Titanium proved to be an indispensable team member during a weekend treasure hunt adventure for this writer’s team of media personnel. As an automobile treasure hunt often requires plenty of stopping and restarting, the vehicle’s Powershift 6-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission was easily equal to the task, although I did find the gear ratio spread out slightly too far apart resulting in evident drag in between gear shifts.

Running on 16″ alloy wheels and a 52-litre fuel tank, it comes with the now common features in the likes of smart keyless entry, push-start ignition, rear parking sensors and hill launch assist, although it stands out somewhat from many of its peers with seven airbags (driver, passenger, sides, curtain and driver’s knee).

As the journey took us onto both fast four-lane expressway, curvaceous coastal roads and through congested small towns, the car’s traction control and an electronic stability program kept us firmly on the road, particularly when we were running late reaching our event’s final checkpoint.

Going through a downpour on the expressway and speeding gingerly right on the edge of the speed limit in order to meet our deadline, the car’s anti-lock braking system and electronic brake force distribution kept the ride stable and in constant control by reducing wheel spin and over or under-steering especially on the slippery stretches.

FordEcoSport-sep2014-0003This variant also gets the leather seat treatment, automatic climate control system, auto lights, rain sensor wipers and a power sunroof. Packaged in five exterior colours – candy red, mars red, winning blue, midnight sky and frozen white – the Ford EcoSport Trend is priced (on-the-road with insurance) at RM92,888 while the EcoSport Titanium goes for RM103,888.

While offering a nice overall buffet spread, there are some trifling concerns and notable ingredients missing from this scrumptious ride. Boasting a helpful 200mm ground clearance between passengers and the flood-prone Malaysian roads is a definite plus point, but with the surprisingly missing hand rail above the door frame for all doors, older folks and shorter passengers may find it an adventure by itself getting into the vehicle.

FordEcoSport-sep2014-0018Another aesthetic annoyance I had with this SUV was the old-styled spare wheel dreadfully placed at its tailgate door. In this age of smaller parking spots at shopping malls and narrow car porches in our homes, a bulky wheel protruding from the back of your car is the last thing you want to deal with.

Finally, where is the daytime running light? Possibly the most imperative feature of any automobile on today’s road, no car should be allowed to roll out of the factory without this gadget conceitedly beaming onto the rear mirror of the car in front.


Boost for the self-esteem

By Christopher Tan

The familiar adage that “great things come in small packages” is never truer when it comes to this American automaker’s latest compact offering.

fordFiesta1L-0003It amazes most people how pocket-sized weightlifters are able to effortlessly lift more than double their own body weight during competitions. Many reason that being short, these athletes need less distance to lift the same weight above the head as compared to their taller peers, while some argue that their smaller frame provide a lower point of gravity thus increasing stability during movement.

I am not sure if those insightful automobile designers over at Ford are big fans of weightlifting but their latest Fiesta design sure resembles every inch of a champion weightlifter; small in size but delivers plenty of thrust, power and stability.

fordFiesta1L-0007First introduced way back in 1976, the Ford Fiesta has continued to keep their growing international fan base happy, including becoming the United Kingdom’s best-selling vehicle of all time recently with sales topping 4.1 million units. Introduced to the Malaysian market in May this year, it is easy to understand why its patented three-cylinder 1.0L EcoBoost engine was named “International Engine of the Year” both in 2012 and 2013.

While the general public may offer a sceptical expression when a single litre car is mentioned, car enthusiasts are aware that automakers are of late swiftly rolling out smaller engine drives that are enhanced with similar power and performance as those from larger vehicles. Much of the rationale comes from improved fuel efficiency as well as increased environment consciousness demanded of consumer cars.

Personally, this latest Fiesta variant is not for those with children and family in tow. It is truly a “driver’s car” for those seeking the thrill and excitement of zipping around the city traffic and for the traffic light “faceoff” when a roaring turbo engine matters.   

fordFiesta1L-0011Combining turbo-charging and direct fuel injection, my very first acceleration of the car – hitting 0-100kmph in under 11.2 seconds – had me nodding in agreement at Ford’s declaration of it being the “most powerful and fuel-efficient B-segment vehicle available in Malaysia.”

With electronic stability program and traction control turned on plus a set of responsive shock absorbers beneath it, I had the additional comfort knowing (and earnestly hoping) that the seven airbags would promptly do its job should I encounter any of the instantaneously-appearing sinkholes around the KL roads.

In all honesty, after only a few corners and traffic lights junctions, this car has impressed me more than a handful of 1.5 and 1.6 litre engine rides that I have reviewed recently. Surprisingly smooth on the acceleration, it seems effortless in producing 125PS of power and 170Nm of torque, but more importantly during these tough economic times, churns out fuel efficiency of 5.3L over a distance of 100 kilometres.

The 1.0L version incorporates various safety features currently available in its 1.5L big brother variant including hill launch assist, which helps to hold the car for up to three seconds on the slope, anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist. For added convenience, it comes standard with a free three-year or 60,000km maintenance programme that covers parts and labour free of charge.

It is not all about the hardware as it is easily ranked high amongst its class in terms of looks. An intimidating five-bar chrome grille, slim headlamps and LED day-time running lights alongside a set of fitting sport kit that extends to the skirting, gives this machine a serious yet sporting edge.

On the software, it clearly comes out fighting above its weight class particularly via Ford Sync that offers drivers hands-free and seamless Bluetooth/USB connectivity to answer phone calls and select music from connected devices, as well as listen to text messages by simply using voice commands.

fordFiesta1L-0018The EcoBoost also comes standard with 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, rear parking aid with park pilot, rain-sensing wipers, six-speaker audio system and of course smart keyless entry together with push button start, which have become a mandatory feature for any car coming out of the assembly line.

Now comes its dilemma; the five-door Ford Fiesta Sport+ with 1.0L EcoBoost engine, which comes in artic white, panther black and true red is priced at RM93,888. I can see many heads turning in disagreement especially amongst those who sternly believe that they can easily get a larger capacity car and one that can fit more of their family members for a lower price tag.

True, but can they get one that will make the driver of the car beside you at the traffic light turn to admire your car’s smooth sporty contours, listen in awe to its purring turbo engine and stare at disbelief when you swiftly leave him behind after the lights turn green?


What’s in store?

fordFiesta1L-0009

  • 1.0l GTDI, EcoBoost 3-cylinder
  • Powershift six-speed dual clutch automatic
  • Electric motor driven power steering
  • 16” alloy wheels
  • Automatic twin chamber halogen reflector headlamps with home safe lighting
  • Power adjustable wing mirror with indicator and puddle lamp
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Electronic stability programme
  • Emergency brake assist
  • Keyless entry and push start button
  • Seven airbags
  • Day-time running lights
  • Stylish all-round skirting