LETTER | 'Now this is a bakkie!' - Driving Ford's Ranger Thunder 4x4 for the first time

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• Wheels24 reader Dylan Curry ventured up Matroosberg mountain when the snowfall was heavy in the Cape.

• The Ford Ranger Thunder tackled the trail with unchanged pressures in the factory-fitted tyres.

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Due to the recent extreme cold weather in Cape Town, I decided that it would be fun to go and check out the snow in Ceres after being granted the opportunity at work to borrow a vehicle for a photoshoot for Barloworld Ford Tygervalley.

I've seen many people go out to Matroosberg Private Reserve, and the information was too back and forth regarding how much snow there is. However, I saw a buddy of mine's Instagram post where he paid the Merino Farm MTB and 4x4 trail a visit. It was just brilliant, so that would definitely be the destination of choice.

On the day the excursion would occur, a colleague and I, along with our better halves, hit the road from Cape Town to Ceres. Getting up at 04:00 in the morning was not something I was looking forward to, but I knew it had to be done. At 06:00, we hit the road in the Ford Ranger Thunder, but outside it was a chilly affair.

Ford Ranger Thunder
2021 Ford Ranger Thunder

Heated cabin

Six-degrees Celcius outside was not something I was looking forward to, but the Thunder's dual climate control and heated seats really did help a lot. It was my first long trip in a while and provided a good chance to test the bakkie's fuel consumption. Entering Ceres, the trip computer gave a reading of 7.8-litres/100km, which, for a bakkie, is crazy figures to me.

The Ranger Thunder's front suspension setup makes any trip smooth, and it's almost unreal how well the bakkie handles on- and off-road. Corner capabilities was another aspect that impressed me.

READ: Here's what it's like living with the Ford Ranger Thunder 4x4 bakkie

The Thunder is powered by the same engine-gearbox combination as the Ranger WildTrak and Ranger Raptor bakkies. The bi-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine produces 157kW and 500Nm, with a 10-speed automatic gearbox sending power to the road. It was an eye-opener how smooth the ride quality is and gear changes… well, you don't feel any of those.

The seats offer ample support, and the ride setup does not necessitate regular stops to stretch your legs. The sound system is very good, and the infotainment system, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, can easily connect with your smartphone.

Ford Ranger Thunder
2021 Ford Ranger Thunder

The juicy part

While South Africa is filled with brand-loyal bakkie fans, the Ford Ranger Thunder proved that you don't need a fully kitted out 4x4 to hang with the big boys. While navigating the trail from the comfort of the cabin, the bakkie kept up with the more rugged 4x4s that also took to the mountain. With unchanged pressures in the factory-fitted tyres, the Ranger Thunder soldiered on undeterred.

WATCH: Ford Ranger Thunder crossing the Breede River via ferry at Malgas

As I drove the bakkie to the top of Matroosberg mountain, other vehicles got stuck in the slippery conditions. Yet, we did not, and it was evident that this bakkie was built for off-road adventures.

After a day scaling one of the most-liked tracks in South Africa, I now understand why so many of these bakkies are on the road. The Ford Ranger is easy to drive with the necessary off-road skills to boot.

Ford Ranger Thunder
2021 Ford Ranger Thunder
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