A few weeks ago I went on a climbing and camping weekend in the Peak District with my wife and two children and we were having a great time messing about in all the mud and doing crazy things like attempting to climb Kinder Scout – which I have to say is roughly an eight mile hike on some of the worst surfaces you could ever possibly imagine.
Of course as usual I had done all the packing for this trip so lots of bits were missing from all our ‘gear’ like; my walking boots for instance – have you ever tried walking Kinder Scout in a pair of Nike’s. Well don’t bother – because you will end up with feet that look like I had taken a hammer to them when I got to the other end.
I had also forgotten our sleeping bag and that meant I had to spend the whole day looking at my wife’s angry face as the thought of her sleeping in a tent with just a blanket from the back of the car was beginning to sink in. Luckily, I had remembered the children’s sleeping bags so at least they would wake up the next morning with all their fingers and toes still intact and protected from the bitter wind, rain and cold but mine would still be lying where I had slept the night before.
Luckily for me, we were camping next to a family that were very organised indeed and resembled a ‘Bear Grylls’ sort of family. I got talking to them that evening and the guy offered to lend me one of his spare sleeping bags so I could at least survive the night with most parts of my body still intact which was a massive relief because my wife could then get her beauty sleep and stop shouting at me for being a complete idiot.
Moving on, I don’t know if you know this or not – but I have a very old Series II Land Rover, it’s very old and very temperamental – but we always take it away with us because on many occasions over the years it has been our saviour in some very difficult situations.
I can recall one right now actually – do you remember the floods in the Cotswolds a few years back? Well we happened to be staying in a village with some friends when the river burst its banks over night and the whole town got surrounded by flood water. The next morning we woke up to find 10” of water around our bed.
The strange thing here though is that in a situation like this you automatically go into survival mode and grab your family and head for the nearest door to hightail it out of there as quickly as possible. My friends family though whose home it was had the same idea – the problem for him though was he owned a Vauxhall Frontera – which is about as useful as Donald Trump will be as President of the United States.
So, as I was the only one with a real 4×4 I managed to get us all to dry land in no time at all because I had taken the initiative and fitted my Land Rover with a snorkel and we were able to just sail our way right out of town. So every time my wife shouts at me now – I just remind her of the day she moaned at me for wasting money by getting a snorkel fitted to the Land Rover and I then remind her of the Cotswolds trip and complete silence follows.
Anyway, back to the Peak District.
As I said earlier the guy camping next to us was very organised and as a motoring journalist I had noticed he was sporting a very shiny almost brand new bright Orange Ford Ranger Wildtrak.
So, because I am cheeky sod I decided to ask him if I could have a go. ‘Yes – he replied and I will come with you so let’s have some fun’. (Brokeback Mountain did enter my mind) Well he was right with the ‘Fun’ part. This Ranger was amazing. I am very much a Range Rover & Land Rover fan – but I have to say the Ranger was really quite epic.
Firstly – it was fitted with a 3.2 litre Duratorq TDCi (200 PS) engine and it was also a 4×4 that had 470Nm or torque. If that was not enough it was kitted out like Kim Kardashian’s bedroom. Here are some of the features you get as standard on the ‘Wildtrak version’
Titanium front grille, 18″ machined alloy wheels, power-foldable mirrors with titanium effect painted housings, integrated side turn indicators and puddle lights, body colour front bumper with painted inserts, Titanium effect painted rear step bumper, plastic moulded side steps with brushed-finish metallic inserts, Titanium effect door handles plus Aluminium finish roof rails.
And, Aerodynamic sports bar with integrated loadbox illumination, wing grille with Wildtrak logo, Radio/CD/SD-Navigation system with 8″ TFT touchscreen, Ford SYNC 2 with Voice Control and USB connection for external music devices, rear-view camera, a choice of seven ambient interior lighting colours, with dimming control and Leather-trimmed steering wheel with ‘Wildtrak stitching.
Yes I know what you are thinking – its looks nice but I bet it can’t go Off-Road. Wrong! – It does that brilliantly too. I kid you not, it was better than I ever imagined it to be and that’s partly thanks to Ford’s clever Four-wheel drive system that is optimised by a comprehensive ESC system. Part of this system is also Traction Control, which has driver-switchable settings, for all sorts of off-road driving situations.
He had even gone that one step further and fitted Ford’s Off-road Pack which Includes; engine and transfer case protection, fuel tank protection to help reduce the risk of damage when driving on uneven ground and an electronic locking rear differential to help provide increased traction on the slippy stuff.
I can also tell you that the inside does not feel cheaply made either and you get plenty toys to play with and all the controls are set out nicely with many of the buttons and switches having a quality feel. Even the seating is brilliant and nothing like you would expect from a car with ‘workhorse’ in mind.
Ford also tested the Ranger to the extremes – starting with frost-covered prototypes started up in -40°C temperatures and at oxygen-starved 4500-metre altitudes, to sun-baked vehicles towing fully-laden trailers up long inclines in blistering 50°C heat.
To be honest I really was impressed by the Ranger, yes it may look like a Pop Star’s 4X4 –but I’m telling you now – the Ranger is the real deal – it’s a real ‘workhorse’
Finally, our weekend was over and it was time to return home. I had packed the Land Rover – we all jumped in and I turned the key – but nothing happened. It appeared I had left the CoolBox on all night and it had flattened the battery. So, guess what? Yep – I had to be bump started by a very smug looking guy in a bright Orange Ford Ranger.
Can you believe such a sight – A Land Rover being towed by a Ford!
Happily though – I was glad it was him in his ‘Ford Ranger’ and not my friend in his Vauxhall Frontera.