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New Ford Ranger MS-RT 2022 review

Rally team offshoot gets its hands on the big-selling Ford Ranger pick-up

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

Yes, the Ranger MS-RT is an exercise in style over function, but at least the add-ons don't have a detrimental effect on the Ranger's talents. In fact, it's been made slightly better on-road. The fact that it still qualifies as a commercial vehicle when the Ranger Raptor doesn't means that there is likely to be a captive audience of buyers wanting a premium pick-up that are ready to stump up the cash.

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With fewer rivals in the pick-up class, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Ford Ranger – the sector's best-seller by a big margin – would just plod on as-is until the all-new version arrives in 2023. But Ford isn't done with the current generation just yet, having introduced no less than four new versions to the line-up at the end of 2021. Here we're driving the Ranger MS-RT, arguably the most interesting model of the new quartet.

The initials MS-RT might already be familiar to you if you're a fast Ford fan. The company is an offshoot of the M-Sport rally team, and the firm that already sells modified Transit Customs via Ford's commercial vehicle dealers. Now it's had a go at making a sporty Ranger.

While the Transit Custom MS-RT has an aggressive looking bespoke bodykit that's inspired by M-Sport's Fiesta World Rally Cars, the Ranger MS-RT is a bit more subtle. There's good reason for that, since the MS-RT can't tread on the toes of Ford's official flagship, the Ranger Raptor. While that model is focused on fast off-road use, the MS-RT offers a more refined, 'grown up' look that's geared towards tarmac use.

MS-RT has added a new honeycomb grille and front bumper, while the wider flared wheelarches front and rear are connected by bespoke side skirts. Those arches cover 20-inch OZ Racing alloy wheels (two inches larger than the wheels of a Ranger Wildtrak, which the MS-RT is based on), and a sports bar is bolted into the load bed to further smooth the MS-RT's shape. Carbon fibre door mirror caps also feature, while the MS-RT is only available in three subtle colours: Frozen White, Sea Grey or Agate Black. Overall it makes for a sophisticated and sporty look that's not as in-your-face as the Ranger Raptor's.

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Inside, MS-RT's talents in the field of upholstery are evident. Hand-crafted Nappa leather is used on the seats and comes with orange contrast stitching, while MS-RT logos are embroidered on the headrests and carpets, and feature on the door sills and a plaque on the dashboard. It all adds up to give the Ranger a more upmarket feel than ever.

Under the skin, the Ranger MS-RT remains identical to the Wildtrak it's based on. That means Ford's excellent 210bhp 2.0 EcoBlue twin-turbodiesel features, as does the Mustang-sourced 10-speed automatic transmission. Something else that's carried over is a payload capacity in excess of one-tonne, so unlike the Ranger Raptor, the MS-RT still qualifies as a commercial vehicle, so it can take advantage of more favourable tax rates.

On the road, the MS-RT is largely identical to a Ranger Wildtrak in the way it drives. Introducing 20-inch alloy wheels with lower-profile tyres brings with it a bit more noise as they crash over bigger lumps and bumps in the road, but the trucks' decent damping means they're still heard more than they are felt. You get a bit more grip and slightly better turn-in thanks to the larger tyre size, but of course the penalty for this will be a slightly poorer off-road experience. Having said that, if you've shelled out almost £50k (that's ex-VAT, too) for the MS-RT, you're probably not too keen to ding that fancy new bodywork or the big wheels by taking it off road immediately.

Model:Ford Ranger 2.0 EcoBlue 213PS MS-RT
Price:£49,901 (ex-VAT)
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl twin-turbodiesel
Power/torque:210bhp/510Nm
Transmission:10-speed automatic, selectable four-wheel drive 
0-62mph:9.0 seconds
Top speed:112mph
Economy:36.2mpg
On sale:Now
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Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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