Ford has taken the bold move of ditching its in-house 10-speed automatic transmission in favour of a ZF Sachs eight-speed automatic for the Chinese-market version of its Ranger ute.

    Produced by Jiangling Motors Co, a 49 per cent Ford Motor Company-owned Chinese manufacturer, the next-generation Ford Ranger has recently been launched in China in a limited Wildtrak 1st Edition trim.

    Limited to 800 units, this launch edition debuts with a host of features and technologies not yet seen on Australian-market Rangers.

    The Ford Ranger Wildtrak produced in China (and to be exported to a number of Asian and Middle Eastern markets) is exclusively powered by a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, as seen locally in the Volkswagen Amarok and in US-built Rangers.

    Instead of Ford’s in-house 10-speed automatic transmission, however, it uses ZF Sachs’ ZF8HP eight-speed automatic.

    The petrol engine produces 190kW of power and 450Nm of torque, slightly down on the 222kW and 452Nm in the Amarok with the same engine.

    This signals a big change for Ford given it now uses the 10-speed automatic transmission in a large number of its commercial utilities.

    The eight-speed automatic transmission could also signal a move to the German gearbox for future iterations of a plug-in hybrid Ford Ranger given the 8HP transmission features plug-in hybrid compatibility.

    In a video produced by a Chinese media outlet, some of the changes can be seen in action during a product demonstration.

    In addition to the different gearbox, the Chinese-market Ranger also features front and rear differential locks, turn assist and ditches its leaf-spring suspension setup for a coil-sprung setup with Watts linkage, similar to the one seen in the Everest.

    Other changes include a integrated winch, bead lock rims, front and rear steel bumpers, a modified interior and panoramic sunroof.

    Pricing for the Chinese market Wildtrak 1st Edition kicks off from 268,000 yuan, which converts to around A$56,000.

    It’s understood Ford’s Australian team worked on this vehicle out of Australia in joint collaboration with Jiangling Motors Co. We also understand that this vehicle unfortunately won’t be offered in Australia.

    Paul Maric

    Paul Maric is an Australian car expert based in Melbourne, Australia. Paul is a founder of CarExpert.com.au & formerly part of the CarAdvice founding team.

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