Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Limited edition, limited change

New Ford Ranger Wildtrak fails to inspire very much excitement

Published on December 19, 2007

Limited edition, limited change

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

When an automotive company calls you up and asks you to take their latest limited-edition vehicle out for a spin, you obviously become excited. Excited due to the words "limited", which means you'll be driving a vehicle that only a very few will get to drive. What kills this excitement is when you hear the modifications to the vehicle are a few stickers, a shoulder bar, box rails, roof rails and, of course, the special strato-blue paint job.

So after a week of contemplating whether the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is worthy of print space, I realise it is worth writing about the marketing perspective.

The Wildtrak is supposed to be a sort of sports-utility pickup. The Ranger four-wheel-drive version usually looks boxy, and the additions that come along in the Wildtrak soften its appearance while portraying a rugged sporty look. The orange Wildtrak sticker that adorns the two front doors and the rear bed door let the world know you're one of an exclusive few.

The silver shoulder bar and box rails in the bed are very attractive and make the passenger area of the Ranger look somewhat longer, more like a sport-utility vehicle.

The roof rails, again in silver, also make the Ranger look taller. But most of all is the strato-blue paintwork the Wildtrak comes with. It's sort of a luminous paint with freckled glitter on the surface, to which photos do no justice and must be seen in the metal to be appreciated.

On the move, the Wildtrak is unaltered from other Rangers. The interior is the same and boxy, which leads to a love-hate situation. The view out of the rear-view mirror has improved, because you can see the box rails. Besides this, the ride is poor.

It bumps and cracks, sending shivers down your spine. But the high-torque engine and five-speed transmission provide a smooth ride, and cruising is not a problem.

Over my few days with the Wildtrak, I must say the vehicle did come across as sporty and more adapted to the city, aesthetically at least. While an average four-wheel-drive pickup may not be the first choice of a white-collar office guy, the Wildtrak would be something he would drive just for the kicks. Don't expect any turning heads, though, as the Wildtrak, although "cooler", does not stick out enough to attract attention.

Ford claims that all of the additional accessories on the Wildtrak have been tested for safety. Only 100 units of the Wildtrak will be produced, and the sticker price is Bt917,000. The vehicle itself was launched on the 11th anniversary of Ford Thailand.

However, it is not Ford's intention to sell the Wildtrak like hot cakes. I believe it's rather to let more people be aware that the Ranger can be more appealing with a little bit of "make-up". It's to associate the idea of accessorising with the Ranger.

Similar tactics are also used by other auto-makers, such as Mitsubishi, which last year launched an atrocious orange-coloured Triton.

So, looking for some limited-edition fun? If you are, then take a stroll to that Ford dealer. But make it quick, because more than 50 of the 100 units have already been sold. After all, how many limited-edition vehicles will the average pickup buyer get a shot at anyway?

Vijo Varghese

The Nation

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