A Karoo adventure with the Ford Ranger Raptor SE

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Strydenburg, Britstown... For Home’s Karoo edition our creative team covered 1 800km from Cape Town in a Ford Ranger Raptor SE. Here’s Marian van Wyk’s peek behind the scenes.

“Please, just don’t cry,” says Greg Cox at the fork in the double-track farm road where neither of us can quite remember which way to turn... 

I bristle. “You know I only cry over animals that suffer,” I growl at the photographer with whom I’ve shared several pecks of salt over the past 12 years. The sun has long gone, cellphone reception too, and the full-bodied moon hangs over the Therons’ farm outside Strydenburg. 

I pull myself together and examine the veld behind us on the screen of the navigation system before I return for a third time to the double-track road – but not before engaging low range with a turn of the dial next to the gear shifter. The ingenious terrain-management system is much easier to work with than the scratchy gearbox of the vintage 4x4 I grew up with. 

The interior is just as sporty as the bodywork. The clouds on the far side of the Huguenot tunnel make us wonder whether we’ll be able to take pictures.

It’s day two on the road, and three days since the big rains coloured the entire landscape green. The fork in the double-track farm road definitely wasn’t here yesterday – and on the far side of Britstown, Jan Sauer Lambrechts and his braai fire await our arrival in vain. 

Half an hour later, we’re back on track and I can let Jan Sauer know we’re hopelessly late. The puddles we navigated yesterday are still deep – just like the tracks of our Ranger. But tonight the pools are gleaming dark and ominously in the moonlight. 

The Ford Ranger Raptor SE is built for high-speed off-road driving and in its wide ‘takkies’ stands 51mm taller than the standard model. General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyres keep us on track on loose surfaces. The world is wet but our equipment and luggage remain bone dry, thanks to the sturdy lockable roller shutter on the back.

The days on the road are long, and the workdays even longer, which is why I have rules for road trips such as these. Number one: no long faces (I nearly broke that one with my slump at the fork in the road!). Two: work hard, play harder (this we manage well). Three: travel comfortably and stress-free with the right tyres and ground clearance (here’s where the Ranger comes into the picture).

That’s why I happily dropped Greg off with his camera at the largest mud pool we could find so he could shoot some fun pictures of our swanky ride. 

“Faster! More mud! Now through the middle of the pool!” Greg would direct. And we’d shriek with delight.

I don’t leave home without my ‘MacGyver bag’, which has everything from a multi-tool to cut-resistant gloves. We always hit the brakes for a prickly pear bush.

Back to the present and the dark N12 to Britstown. Thanks to a automatic 10-speed gearbox, the tension of the double-track road is soon forgotten. The 157 kW 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engine is powerful and I’m grateful for the light of the full moon and the reliable all-terrain tyres. 

It’s 21:30 when we pull in at Jan Sauer’s guest farm, where we’re spending the night. The Ranger was a dream on the muddy roads. 

As I lift my tired body out of the leather seats, I spot a bakkie in the parking space next to ours. It also looks like a mud monster, but there is a difference. Our Ranger doesn’t have a flat tyre. 

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April 2023

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