Cape Town - Look, I’ll be honest. I’ve always liked the idea of owning a double-cab.
The ride height, the intimidation of other cars on the road, the practicality... all of these were factors I told myself were important in a vehicle. Not least of all is the fact that I absolutely LOVE the long road. My wife and I do road trips all the time.
You can find us, on weekends we’re not on one of Cape Town’s magnificent beaches, up the West Coast at R27 Roosterkoek at Vygevallei, or in Stellenbosch, or Franschhoek, or Elgin, or Rooiels, or Simonstown, or Scarborough... we get around, is what I’m saying.
And while my trusty Jetta 1.4 TSi with a touch under 400 000km on the clock (you read that right) eats up the road in comfort and style, I’m always wary of veering off tarred roads to really discover some of the lesser-seen beauty of the Western Cape.
The need for a double-cab became apparent when we holidayed a few years back in the valleys behind Botrivier. The Van Der Stel Pass is a 17km stretch of gravel road leading you from Botrivier to Theewaterskloof, and we needed to access this stretch of road to get to our holiday cabin.
Take me back... pic.twitter.com/yqKFLWgEDP— Lance Witten (@LanceTheWitten) March 4, 2022
Needless to say, doing the last leg of your journey at 30km/h is not the best way to start your holiday. The couple we holidayed with had taken their new X-Rider on the gravel; it could easily make the 80km/h speed limit and arrived in time to get the coals going.
Which got me thinking... do I need a double-cab?
There were enough arguments against - fuel economy, wallowy driving dynamics, poor on-road manners, clunky, outdated looks, stodgy gearboxes...
Enter the Ford Ranger Stormtrak.
We had the privilege of taking the Stormtrak (in its exclusive Lucid Red livery) down to Kleinmond and Hermanus last weekend.
“Is it comfortable?” asked my wife, whose most recent experience in a double cab was banging her head repeatedly against the roof and grab handle in the back seat of my dad’s NP300 Hardbody he’d lovingly nicknamed ‘The Tincan’. It’s a utilitarian bakkie built for proper off-roading that he’d needed while conducting his work in the most rural areas of Mozambique.
The Ford Ranger Stormtrak is worlds apart. It’s as comfortable as an SUV, with every possible amenity you could hope for. Lane keep assist. Radar-guided cruise control. Puddle lamps. Automatic roller shutter. Keyless entry. Push-button start. Ford Sync, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, and effortless Bluetooth connectivity. Sat-nav. You name it, the Stormtrak’s got it.
And the reward is just... 😍 pic.twitter.com/4iQck2XEkK— Lance Witten (@LanceTheWitten) February 26, 2022
Underneath the automatic power shutter is a really nifty adjustable load-bin divider, which is incredibly useful if you’re just headed out for a weekend away and don’t want two overnight suitcases barrelling around through the twisties.
But how does it drive? The 2.0l bi-turbo diesel mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox is an absolute charm. Cruising at highway speeds in 10th gear, the Stormtrak barely idled at 1500rpm. Our weekend round trip returned fuel consumption figures of 9.1l/100km (city driving thereafter is a solid 10l/100km). Over 450km of trekking on the backroads of Kleinmond, through nameless gravel passes, the Van der Stel Pass behind Botrivier, up to Grabouw and back down Sir Lowry’s, we used just half a tank of fuel.
On gravel, it’s surefooted, and ate up the dirt as we passed through the valleys behind Botrivier en route to Theewaterskloof. Nary a slip nor complaint from the traction control. Rutted surfaces? The Stormtrak has them for breakfast.
My only complaint is that parking can be a struggle, because the Ranger is a beast, and its rear end sometimes pokes out (we need to make bigger parking bays). But the semi-autonomous parking assist makes parallel parking that much easier, and the rear-view camera, while not the best resolution, is definitely a boon.
When I was younger, people around me would joke that Ford stands for “F**ken ordentlike ry ding”, and they were right. My parents owned a Sapphire, a Sierra and an Escort, and my grandfather drove a bronze Cortina for much of my childhood.
For a model coming to the end of its production cycle, the Ranger still is up there with the best, and I’d urge you to snap up one of these Stormtraks before the new model drops.
Having lived with it, I’ve come to realise: I don’t need a double cab... but I do need a Stormtrak.
* Watch the bakkie episode of our Bonnets & Boots Podcast here.