GO ANYWHERE: Performax-converted Ford F-250 Lariat is at home off the bitumen.
GO ANYWHERE: Performax-converted Ford F-250 Lariat is at home off the bitumen.

The Performax F-250: Born in the USA, modified for Australia

ROAD TEST: 2015 Performax Ford F-250 Crewcab Super Duty Lariat.

 

WHAT MATTERS MOST

What we liked: High quality RHD conversion, superb pull from engine, smooth gearbox, towing capacity and gargantuan interior space.

What we'd like to see: Bigger road width and parking spaces to make it easier to live with, better fuel economy and a more premium cabin finish with the higher spec models.

Warranty and servicing: Performax International 120,000km/4 year warranty.

 

 

YOU'RE looking at the best-selling vehicle in America.

Not a country that's ever embraced frugal little diesel hatchbacks, our Stateside friends prefer the more in-yer-face approach, hence the giant Ford F truck's popularity.

A ute/pick-up truck loving nation ourselves, we Aussies haven't quite the insatiable need for these giants of the road, but a reasonable market exists for those wanting to haul greater than 3.5-tonnes, or for those simply itching to play out their truck driver fantasies.

Performax International in Gympie, Queensland, imports the Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks, and the right-hand drive conversion specialist has recently been approved as Australia's newest full-volume manufacturer.

This means it undertakes volume series production, so rather than each vehicle being individually engineered and approved by government authorities, the Performax F-Series trucks feature no one-off items among the 100-plus new components if fitted to create right-hand-drive versions.

But beyond all these specifics, more importantly is the behemoth before you. At 6.2m long and featuring a 6.7-litre V8 diesel producing enough twist to make your eyes bleed, it is the perfect antidote to anything sensible, plug-in, hybrid or space saving.

Performax Ford F-250 Lariat's luxury cabin
Performax Ford F-250 Lariat's luxury cabin

Comfort

BUILT for lengthy journeys across America's highways, our test F-250 Crewcab Lariat (sitting mid-range in Performax's five vehicle line-up) is a roomy, highly-equipped place in which to cross continents.

With the entry-level F-250 XL starting at $105,000 before on-roads you'd be forgiven for expecting a truly premium cabin, but you have to remember you're paying more for this truck's size, abilities and Performax's seamless conversion rather than a Bentley-esque finish.

It's still a utilitarian Ford truck, so it's more hard plastic for the dash and doors rather than Euro-style premium. The seats are expectedly huge, as is everything from the drink holders to the centre console.

Being a Crewcab there are three rear seats that put most mid-sized sedans to shame in terms of roominess. Ample leg and arm room is matched by acres above rear passengers' heads. Not only will your kids love you for owning a truck, they'll also have no complaints when it comes to space on long journeys.

On the road

WHEN fired up the 6.7-litre V8 diesel was surprisingly refined sounding, with minimal engine noise penetrating the well-insulated cabin.

The column shift for the six-speed automatic was a bit fiddly for those not used to them, but after a bit of practice and patience, dropping it in the right gear got increasingly easier.

Your ride height in an F-250 is higher than practically anything else on the road, and you appreciate just how beastly these things are when you eye-ball truck drivers at the same height when passing them

I first tested an F-250 without the FX4 Off-Road Package, and on back roads and off-road it bounced me around quite uncomfortably; a problem, it seemed, of not having anything weighty in the tray.

I next sampled the FX4 version with its Rancho shock absorbers and its on-road manners were far more impressive, with a more compliant ride, less lean in the corners and sharper directional changes. Thankfully, Performax revealed it'd only be supplying F-250s with the FX4 Off-Road package for its 2015 models.

It's still a giant of a thing that takes up a lot of road space, but is simple enough to drive and the engine and gearbox package are superb.

With a frightening 1166Nm of torque - available from just 1,600rpm - pulling power is simply shattering and the F-250 gets up to speed in a time such a brute has no real right to. It felt composed under heavy acceleration, and on a few dirt roads tackled in 4x4 mode it simply laughed at the unpaved terrain, suggesting it could handle a lot more if asked to. Besides, that torque figure should be able to pull the truck out of most sticky situations.

The auto gearbox also impressed, seamlessly changing on both back roads and highways despite it controlling all that power and torque. On the open road, sat at 110kmh (the F-250's natural environment) the big Ford proved a joy. The engine was never under stress and quietly burbled along with all its V8 smoothness.

What do you get?

OUR Lariat model ($127,000 before on-roads) was loaded with power heated and cooled leather seats, dual-zone climate, rear-view camera, comprehensive entertainment system with 20cm touch screen, navigation and attractive woodgrain-style dash accents.

For a bit of fun, you get a funky feature where you can start the truck's engine with the remote key from outside the vehicle. Ideal to warm or cool the cabin pre-drive, or simply for scaring children.

 

Performax Ford F-250. Photo: Contributed.
Performax Ford F-250. Photo: Contributed.

Practicality

THE F-250 is the daddy for those needing space and the ability to tow practically anything asked of it.

Performax said the true payload figure is 1100kg for the rear tray (Ford suggest it is more), which doesn't seem much for such a mighty machine, but you get a sense that Performax has worked everything out accurately.

As for towing, with an approved braking system this F-250 can handle up to 7.6-tonnes behind it, so is specifically aimed at those with fifth wheeler caravans or large horse boxes. As well as the huge interior space, lockable storage under the rear seats adds more cargo room.

Running costs

AMERICA is blessed with far lower fuel prices than us, so economy is not top on Ford USA's agenda, but considering this truck's bulk, it's markedly improved over the older F-Trucks of this size.

 

Performax Ford F-250 Lariat at home on the open road in the Mary Valley, Qld.
Performax Ford F-250 Lariat at home on the open road in the Mary Valley, Qld. Iain Curry

THE LOWDOWN

These trucks are America's number one selling vehicle for a reason.

Go anywhere, huge towing capacity, well-equipped spacious cabin and a V8 diesel engine that is as impressive as the truck is commanding.

Performax's quality of work in its right-hand-drive conversion makes it hard to differentiate from a genuine factory model, and despite how hard it would be to live with for city and town dwellers, the F-250 is a desirable choice for those who eat through the miles towing their heavyweights.

 

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: 2015 Performax Ford F-250 Crewcab Super Duty Lariat.

Details: Imported American 4x4 pick-up truck converted to right-hand drive by Performax International, Gympie, QLD.

Engine: 6.7-litre common-rail turbo-diesel V8 generating maximum power of 328kW @ 2800rpm and 1166Nm @ 1600rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed Selectshift automatic with column shift.

Consumption: As tested, 17.5-litres/100km (extra urban), 12.5-litres/100km (highway).

Bottom line plus on-roads: $127,000 (Lariat version); $105,000 for entry-level XL.



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