The Ford Ranger made its triumphant return to the U.S. market back in 2019, but while the model may be new to U.S buyers, the truck itself has been a familiar presence in the European market. This includes international racing events, and Ford has now taken a new step in motorsports, with the company creating an entry for the 2020 South African Cross County Series.
Ford’s presence in this race has long been established, with the company fielding a fleet of Rangers powered by a 5.0 liter V8 and equipped with a solid axle rear suspension. So what’s new you might be asking? The answer lies underneath the familiar bodywork, with Ford engineers completly revamping the underpinnings in an effort to gain more power and efficiency. The 5.0 liter V8 for example is benched, with the 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 from the Ford Raptor being shoehorned into a new mid mount position that moves the engine itself further back in the updated chassis for improved weight distribution.
Meanwhile, the solid axle has also been pitched, and the truck now benefits from a four corner independent suspension that allows up to 11 inches of travel. A full time all-wheel drive system sends power to all four wheels, with six piston Brembo front brakes and water cooled calipers at the rear providing ample stopping power.
Ford plans to eventually build three of these trucks by mid-2020 with the current V8 entries being gradually phased out. Ford admitted that this year will be a learning year for its drivers, but look for the lighter weight and the beefier power figures to make a big difference out on the course.
The more interesting thing about this truck is how it could possibly be a glimpse into the future of the Ranger itself. The next generation Ranger is expected to hit the global market in late 2021. The U.S. market will most likely get its version in 2022 and this race version could be a thinly veiled glimpse into what is in store. We don’t suspect that the four wheel independent suspension will make the cut due to many truck buyers not really needing that type of suspension for truck work.
The engine however is something that has us salivating with curiosity considering that the North American model only comes equipped with a rather underpowered 270 horsepower 2.3 liter turbocharged four cylinder. Rumors have circulated that a more powerful engine could be in the works for the fifth generation, and perhaps a detuned version of the 3.5 liter could help solve some of these woes.
A V8 is also a possibility, but we suspect that given Ford’s focus on getting more fuel economy out of its offerings these days, we suspect that this is highly unlikely.