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First drive: Ford Ranger MS-RT. Image by Ford.

First drive: Ford Ranger MS-RT
The MS-RT is a tax-efficient halfway house between the conventional Ranger Wildrak and the insane Raptor.

   



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2021 Ford Ranger MS-RT

4 4 4 4 4

The current Ford Rangerís days might be numbered, but thereís life in the old dog yet. And that has never been more true in the case of the MS-RT. The Welsh company best known for tuning Fordís rally cars, has taken the high-specification Ranger Wildtrak and given it a much sportier edge. If you want the tax advantages of a pick-up truck and the road manners of an SUV, it has to be worthy of consideration.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Ford Ranger MS-RT
Pricing: £59,815 incl. VAT
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: ten-speed automatic, selectable four-wheel drive
Body style: four-door, five-seat pick-up truck
CO2 emissions: 212-217g/km
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 10.0 seconds
Power: 213hp
Torque: 500Nm
Max payload: 1,110kg

What's this?

Yep, this is a pick-up truck with sporty pretensions, if that isnít a complete contradiction in terms. MS-RT has long imparted its motorsport-derived influence on Fordís commercial vehicles, with aggressive-looking versions of the Transit Custom proving popular among customers. And now it has turned its attention to the Ranger Ė a truck favoured by the countryís farmers, tree-fellers and tradespeople.

The result is the imaginatively named Ranger MS-RT, which is based on the range-topping Wildtrak model and set apart by its more pronounced body kit, including a honeycomb grille, a much more dramatic front bumper, and the massive 20-inch alloy wheels created by Italian firm OZ Racing.

Aside from the external changes, MS-RT has also livened up the interior with some yellow logos on the seat backs and a plaque on the dashboard, plus some soft leather upholstery but otherwise itís very similar to that of the standard Wildtrak.

Not that weíre complaining, because the Ranger is one of the pick-ups thatís easiest to live with on a day-to-day basis, with high-quality materials (for a pick-up) and decent handling. And the Wildtrak also comes with plenty of standard equipment, including satellite navigation, a touchscreen infotainment system and climate control, not to mention heated seats, a reversing camera and cruise control.

So while the MS-RT doesnít build on that standard specification very much, it doesnít need to. The Wildtrak was already fully loaded, and that has allowed the Welsh to work their magic on the mechanical side of things.

Officially, all MS-RT has done is tweak the suspension in a bid to improve the vehicleís body control and handling. There are no changes to the engine Ė a 2.0-litre diesel Ė or the steering rack; the idea being that the MS-RT should still be every bit as capable as the Wildtrak from which it borrows so much.

How does it drive?

The beauty of the MS-RT is that it has almost no impact on the practicality of the ultra-popular Ranger pick-up truck, so the fettled model has stats that match those of its siblings. That means the 2.0-litre diesel engine churns out 213hp and comes with a 10-speed automatic gearbox, giving the MS-RT a 0-62mph time of 10 seconds flat.

At the same time, the fuel economy and CO2 emissions are identical to those of the Wildtrak, and crucially, the payload is more or less unchanged too. That means you can still have one of these at the reduced rate of company car tax, which will be a boon for the self-employed among us. Itís also something that doesnít apply to the Raptor Ė a car thatís more capable of cool off-road stuff and even better in the corners, but turns out slightly slower in a straight line.

The catch with leaving all that stuff alone is that itís difficult to spot the differences between the MS-RT and the Wildtrak from behind the wheel. The steering is still a bit ponderous, the engine is quite raucous when you ask it to work hard and though the MS-RT may be faster than the Raptor on paper, it still doesnít gather pace especially quickly.

And although the MS-RTís suspension changes begin to make a difference at higher speeds, it canít match the highly modified, highly stable Raptor for handling. Nevertheless, the MS-RTís body control is tighter than that of the standard Ranger, particularly over bumps, so it doesnít bob around as much as it might in Wildtrak guise. Body roll is also slightly improved, but the laws of physics dictate that the MS-RT will still lean through the bends no matter what.

All this comes with a slight trade-off when it comes to the ride, which is a little stiffer and more fidgety than in the Wildtrak Ė particularly with nothing in the load bay. But that is hardly the end of the world, and some of the issues could be attributed to those massive alloys and the lower-profile tyres.

The other advantage of all the MS-RTís Ranger-ness is the off-road capability, which Ford claims is pretty much untouched. It might be advisable to swap the tyres Ė and perhaps those snazzy rims Ė for something a little more suitable to rock-scrambling, but even with the standard kit, Ford claims the MS-RT will still hack the rough stuff. And it still has the same 3.5-tonne maximum towing weight, which keeps the utility for business users.

Verdict

The MS-RT definitely adds a sporty edge to the Ranger, but it canít live up to the brilliance of the Raptor. That said, it still makes the Ranger more fun to drive, and the modifications have no impact on the vehicleís capability Ė something that canít be said of the outrageous Raptor. That means the MS-RT still has the same tax advantages as lowlier Ranger models, so it offers self-employed drivers better value for money and more straight-line performance.


4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


James Fossdyke - 22 Dec 2021



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2021 Ford Ranger MS-RT. Image by Ford.2021 Ford Ranger MS-RT. Image by Ford.2021 Ford Ranger MS-RT. Image by Ford.2021 Ford Ranger MS-RT. Image by Ford.2021 Ford Ranger MS-RT. Image by Ford.








 

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