The new Ranger pick-up signifies a new approach to the sector for Ford as it replaces the current utilitarian model with the sophisticated successor.

The new model, which succeeds in not sacrificing its off-road capability for increased style, joins a marketplace that has recently become more competitive with the arrival of the well-received VW Amarok.

Although the Mitsubishi L200 has long set the pace in the UK, in Europe as a whole the Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara are the market leaders and Ford has set these two rivals as its benchmarks.

The new Ranger pick-up goes on sale in the UK in January with prices ranging from £14,754, excluding VAT, for the two-wheel drive single cab XL 125hp model to £24,279, for the double cab Wildtrak 3.2 200hp auto.

In the most popular double cab guise, which will take about three-quarters of sales, the Euro5 Ranger initially comes with two diesel powertrains, a 2.2-litre 150hp and a 3.2-litre 200hp, mated to six-speed manual or auto transmissions. A 125hp double cab will be available to order from January but will not go into production until mid-2012.

Trim levels include the entry-level XL, the mid-level XLT and the top-of-the-range Limited and Wildtrak models, and both 4×2 and selectable 4×4 versions are offered, the latter expected be to most popular. The 2.2 150hp XLT double cab, priced at £19,362, is expected to be the best-selling model due to its appeal to large fleet buyers.

Owner operators and customers who want the Ranger as a dual-purpose leisure and business vehicle are expected to favour the flagship Limited and Wildtrak versions.

Nick Readings, CV marketing manager, Ford of Europe, said the UK is Ford’s biggest market for pick-ups in Europe, accounting for up to 30% of sales, which is likely to work out at 7000-9000 units a year.

Ford has announced the new Ranger is the first pick-up to receive the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating – scoring 89% for overall safety, including 81% for pedestrian safety, which the manufacturer claimed is the highest ever score for any vehicle.