I came to love the Black Panther during two days of intimacy. No, not watching the movie, but test-driving a car that was given that nickname. The new Ford Ranger FX4, launched in South Africa last week, had an extra attribute. The tech functionality of most cars lies in knowing which buttons to press to have a great experience. In the case of the Black Panther, our assigned jet black edition of the FX4, the cool experience started outside the car.
The FX4, produced at the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria, is the first Ford pickup made in South Africa that can be classified as a connected car. Thanks to an app called FordPass, almost any function of the car that is not directly related to driving can now be controlled from a smartphone, at a distance. This includes remote locking and unlocking, remote starting on automatic vehicles, vehicle locating and vehicle health alerts
It is made possible by a service called FordPass Connect, with a dedicated modem fitted as standard on all new Ford Ranger models: the XL, XLS, XLT, Wildtrak, Raptor and the new FX4.
The FordPass Connect modem is the key to the connected car experience, as it is the interface between the car and the smartphone, but the app represents the experience itself. It allows for both command and control of the car, and stores key vehicle information, like warranty details, owner manual, and service bookings. Best of all, for those who just bought a Ranger, is that the app is backwards compatible, meaning it can work with previous models, as long as they were produced from 2017 onward.
With my car test partner Simon, sitting inside Steve’s Pub and Restaurant in Port St John’s, we took control of the car. Not only locking and unlocking, but also checking the mileage, oil and fuel level (no need to refuel, so time for another coffee). The extra time inside meant the car was going to be baking hot under the East Cape sun, so we started the car to get the aircon going, 10 minutes before sauntering back to the vehicle.
When we opened the door – unlocked from a distance, of course – the cabin was as cool as when we had left it.
Go to the next page to read information about the full set of features from the FordPass app and FordPass Connect.