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First drive in the armoured Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6 in South Africa

The Ford Ranger is now available with bullet-resistant armour plating in South Africa from local firm SVI Engineering.

The package will set you back anywhere between R426,268 (excl. VAT) and R866,966 (excl. VAT), depending on the level of protection and of course, excluding the price of the bakkie.

Following a whirlwind year with demand for these vehicles skyrocketing, SVI invited TopAuto for a tour of its facilities and to get a taste of how its newest armoured vehicle performs.

What does B6 mean?

The B rating of an armoured vehicle refers specifically to the glass and the level of weapon fire that it can withstand.

There are two ratings used for civilian purposes – B4 and B6 – the latter of which is the highest level of protection allowed without any special permits in South Africa.

For the Ranger, the installation of B6 armour includes specially-fabricated steel plates in areas such as the doors, pillars, and engine bay; 38mm-thick windows; and upgraded hinges; ensuring that all the angles of the bakkie are resistant to 7.62×51mm ammunition, such as rounds fired from R1 or AK47 assault rifles.

SVI B6 Ford Ranger battery protection

However, the standard B6 armouring only covers the sides of a vehicle, so SVI implores its customers to also plate the roof of their cars, and recently it started doing the floors more regularly, too.

These are things the company didn’t often have to do in the past, but as criminals became aware of the specifications of certain armouring packages they started targeting the weak spots.

SVI said there have been numerous incidents where an attacker stopped a vehicle, climbed onto the bonnet, and fired a volley of shots into the roof which wasn’t bullet-resistant, and with vehicles that do have top-side protection, they will try to flip them over and attack through the floor.

From the outside, these changes are indistinguishable to the naked eye at a quick glance. You really have to know what you’re looking for – like the subtle armour overlaps and small SVI badges in the windows – to know that this bakkie is capable of stopping bullets.

SVI vs OEM door hinge

How does it drive?

Getting only a dozen or so kilometres behind the wheel of the armoured Ranger Wildtrak there were notable quirks that immediately attracted attention.

The first already makes itself known before you’re sat in the driver’s seat, this being the much heavier doors hiding the precision-cut metal plates that require plenty of effort to open and close as opposed to the standard doors that can be operated with the tip of a finger.

Once inside, the subtleties between the standard and armoured Ranger are few, but discernible.

Mostly, around the window edges there are a few centimetres of overlap between the pieces of armour so as to ensure that there are no ballistic gaps between panels through which a well-placed bullet could squeeze.

This does provide the sensation that you’re more sheltered from the dangers of the outside world than in any normal Ranger, but also fosters a more claustrophobic atmosphere inside the passenger cell while partially impeding outward visibility.

The windows don’t go all the way down, either, but just enough to let you hand your licence to a security guard at the estate gates, and for certain owners to enjoy a cigarette without smoking up the cabin – something that had to be considered during SVI’s research and development procedures.

Fortunately, all the Ranger’s features still do what they say on the tin and are not impacted by the aftermarket additions, so you can continue enjoying the excellent infotainment system and advanced driver assistance tools at will.

SVI B6 Ford Ranger interior

Once on the move, you won’t confuse the SVI Ranger for a standard one. While they are similar in most aspects, they are unique in key areas including handling and road noise.

The added weight of the armouring solution has shifted the centre of gravity slightly higher and this makes itself known when braking, accelerating, and rounding corners, where the double cab pitches more forwards, backwards, or to the sides than usual.

On the other hand, the added protection had the unintended consequence of providing a quieter cabin with fewer sounds finding their way through the metal plates and thickened glass.

In terms of fuel consumption, while we couldn’t test the heavier Ranger’s efficiency ourselves, SVI said the B6 package will increase usage by about 1.0l/100km on most large vehicles.

Aside from these mannerisms, there’s not much different about the armoured Ranger compared to the standard version.

Power delivery is barely affected by the extra 600-odd kilogrammes of the metal plating and neither is ride comfort, both of which are segment-leading in the flagship Wildtrak V6.

Case in point, it is the first bakkie in 37 years to win South Africa’s Car of the Year competition, so there’s not much to complain about.

If you can flip the bill, there’s no downside to taking your Ranger to SVI to have it kitted out with an extra layer of protection. Even if you never end up needing it, the extra peace of mind when traversing South Africa’s treacherous roads is well worth the spend.

A fair warning, just don’t let the confidence that you get behind the wheel of a bullet-resistant car go to your head, it happens quicker than you think.

SVI B6 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

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