THE ANSWER to the question of what constitutes a performance car is rapidly evolving. Once upon a time hatchbacks were for going to the shops but the VW Golf GTI changed that, while SUVs were limited to the school run until the likes of the Posche Cayenne Turbo came along.

So what’s the next vehicle to take the leap? Well, with diesel utes dominating the Aussie sales race and our own V8-powered car-based ute about to shuffle off into the ether, there’s a huge gap in the marketplace for a four-wheel drive ute with some real grunt under the bonnet.

Toyota jumped the gun with the awful TRD Hilux back in 2008, but Tickford has joined the club with a modified Ranger. Headlining the list is the $7995 powertrain upgrade, which lifts outputs from the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel from 147kW/470Nm to around 169kW/564Nm, which is reasonably impressive. The other major mechanical upgrades include Bilstein dampers ($1285) and the 20-inch wheel and tyre package ($4525), which also includes the bolt-on guard flares.

And the verdict is? Well, with rear-wheel drive and so much torque, there is fun to be had in the Ranger, but you’re unlikely ever to want to take it for a sporting drive for the hell of it. To be fair, Tickford was only ever trying to improve the appearance and road manners of the Ranger and has achieved this (though the looks will be an acquired taste), but it’s clear that the working ute has a long way to go before it earns its place in the pages of MOTOR on its performance ability. – SN SPECS 3.2L I5, 169KW/564NM, 2200KG, 0-100KM/H N/A PRICE $75,000 (APPROX.)