Ford Ranger MS-RT review: special edition pickup tested Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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First Drive

Ford Ranger MS-RT review: special edition pickup tested

Published: 06 Dec 2021

That looks rather schporty for a pickup truck?

Well spotted. This is the Ford Ranger MS-RT, and those four letters are the important bit here. If you like your rallying or your heavily bodykitted Transit vans, you’ll probably already know that MS-RT stands for M-Sport Road Technology. 

The company was born as a partner of legendary rallyist Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport Ford world rally team, and now almost solely offers custom styling kits for Ford’s commercial vehicles. It’s an interesting path to take, but we’re fans of the work that the South Wales outfit is churning out.

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It seems the buying public is keen too, because Ford is opening a second MS-RT facility within the confines of Ford Dagenham in 2022. More modifying to come, then.

What’s different to a standard Ranger?

MS-RT hasn’t exactly gone all-out with the Ranger. It’s based on the well-equipped Wildtrak rather than the baby Baja racer Raptor. Boo. It’s also designed to be road-biased, so you get big 20-inch OZ Racing wheels with road-going tyres, plus an “aerodynamic sports hoop” across the load bay and a full (if a little conservative) MS-RT bodykit.

The wheel arches have been beefed up, the front and rear bumpers are supposedly more aggressive compared to the Wildtrak, and there are sporty new side sills and ‘carbon effect’ wing mirror caps. Don’t expect to see MS-RTs knee-deep in muddy fields that often. 

Presumably it has an upgraded powertrain to match the looks?

Ah. Erm, no. Under the skin this is no different to the standard Wildtrak, so your only option is the Ranger’s venerable 2.0-litre twin-turbo EcoBlue diesel. That means 210bhp and 369lb ft of torque is sent to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic gearbox. Not exactly rally-bred, is it? 

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The powertrain is tried and tested, though. The diesel engine gets very vocal at higher revs, but leave the MS-RT to its own devices (and ignore the gearbox’s sport mode) and you’ll get along just fine on the road. Just don’t expect car-like steering- and braking-feel if you’re coming from an SUV like so many pickup buyers are these days. This is still very much a commercial vehicle. The ride is a little firm and bouncy when unladen too. 

Using this powertrain does mean that the MS-RT retains its key workaday features. Think towing capacity of 3,500kg, payloads of up to 1,098kg and switchable 2WD/4WD modes. You still get a low ratio gearbox too, plus hill descent control and a lockable rear diff. Just remember to mind those plastic bumpers if the going gets really tough.

What’s it like on the inside?

More cosmetic surgery here. The top-spec Ranger’s interior is already perfectly fit for purpose with decent screens (that central one is an 8-inch unit), Apple CarPlay connectivity and wipe-down materials. In the MS-RT you get chunky but supportive leather seats and contrast orange stitching, as well as plenty of special edition badging of course.

Worth noting that in the UK you can only have the MS-RT as a five-seat double cab. Left-hand drive markets will have the option of a much cooler – but less practical – two-door Super Cab.

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How much will it cost me?

Good question – Ford hasn’t listed a price for the MS-RT just yet, but it does say that it sits alongside the Raptor at the pinnacle of its pick-up line-up. That payload does mean you’ll be able to claim the VAT back by registering the MS-RT as a commercial vehicle though, so you’ll probably end up paying around the £40,000 mark. Not cheap.

Didn’t Ford just announce a new Ranger?

Correct. On another note, you should probably get out more. But yes, the next generation Ranger has now been unveiled. At the moment Ford says that won’t be available for order in the UK until late 2022 though, and you won’t have one delivered until 2023 at the earliest, so it’s a way off yet. Until then, unless you really want the very slight styling tweaks, you’re probably better off saving some cash and sticking with the Wildtrak.

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