The Ford Ranger’s global history is a tale of not one truck but two. First, in 1982, came the US-market Ranger, a smaller sibling to the F-series and leviathan-like Super Duty. Exports began to South America in 1995.
The ‘other’ Ranger pick-up was, until now, actually a version of the Japanese-built Mazda B-series, rebadged for markets outside of the Americas and known as the Courier until 1998. It’s this version of the Ranger, and not the US version, that British buyers have come to know.
The work of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs department may not be universally admired, but for the owners of pick-up trucks, it could be. A few years ago, before paying less tax than the next man become a major sociopathic gaffe, the benefit-in-kind rules on light commercial vehicles made pick-ups an attractive buy.
You could run a leather-upholstered, highly equipped, five-seat double-cab flatbed as a fleet car and pay a fraction of the company car tax that the owner of even a plug-in hybrid would.
In 2007, the government addressed the LCV loophole, increasing benefit-in-kind liability from £500 to a flat £3000, irrespective of CO2. But even having done that, the owner of this week’s 197bhp, 5.4m-long, all-wheel-drive road test subject will pay £200 a month less in company car tax than he would for a Land Rover Freelander.
If you’ve ever wondered why you see so many pick-ups on UK roads, wonder no longer. Our stage is set, then, for a vehicle mixing the quality, refinement and handling of a passenger car with the toughness and capability of an old-school pick-up. But is the Ford Ranger really that car?