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Extreme 4×4: The Ford F-150 Raptor

16 April 2015

We thought the Ford F-150 Raptor was dead, but in 2016 Ford will be resurrecting one of the coolest names in the industry. As far as we can tell, there’s only one problem…

We are pretty happy about being born and raised in SA, but sometimes we can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy when we read about the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.

We like to think we have some impressive bakkies in SA, but the Raptor makes even our biggest bakkies look like something you’d give your son to play with in the garden.

It’s a V8-powered leviathan built for one purpose and one purpose only – to jump over off-road obstacles instead driving over them. We know it makes no sense, but the best things in life rarely do.

That’s why we were so sad when Ford decided to axe it. Motoring hacks all over the world wrote eulogies in its honour and many of us thought we’d never see the likes of it again. In a world where fuel consumption and emissions figures are regarded as the be-all and end-all, a V8 monster built for ramping over stuff is about as politically incorrect as punching the president.

Luckily, Ford makes loads of environmentally friendly vehicles, so it can be forgiven for building the odd car that captures the imagination and enthrals the senses. While we were all crying in a corner, Ford was busy developing a replacement for its beloved, illogical off-roader.

The new model is a staggering achievement for many reasons, the least of which is that Ford managed to keep it completely under wraps until the moment it drove onto the stage at the Detroit Motor Show in January.

The press release reads like a Danielle Steel novel for off-road enthusiasts. Let’s start with the stuff under the body.

The Raptor has a unique, purpose-built high-strength steel frame. To keep weight as low as possible, only military grade aluminium was used for the body panels. The result is a weight saving of 226kg compared to the previous model.

Suspension wise, the new Raptor has larger Fox Racing Shox, which allow for more suspension travel than ever before. The 17-inch alloys are shod with next-generation BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tyres designed specifically for off-road racing. This is also the first-ever Raptor to feature dual exhaust pipes, but the sound they emit might surprise you.

Ford has axed the big V8 in favour of a more economical V6 EcoBoost engine. But hold on a second before you throw this magazine on the ground. We admit that some of the magic might have got lost in the process, but Ford says the turbocharged V6 will be more powerful than the outgoing V8 and that it will be mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission.

The V8 pushed out a fairly decent 306kW and 587Nm of torque, so we expect power output figures of around 330kW and 700Nm for the new model. We may be wrong, but suffice to say that it definitely won’t be a slouch.

The exterior styling has received an aggressive makeover to make it look more like the famous American Trophy Trucks. These monsters are the fastest off-road bakkies on the planet and regularly race in famous events like the Baja 1000.

To ensure that drivers of any skill level can get the best out of the Raptor, Ford has included an all-new four-wheel drive system, torque-on-demand transfer case and advanced driver assistance technologies such as the Terrain Management System.

The driver simply tells the car what surface it’s on and the vehicle makes the necessary changes to the powertrain, driveline, traction control, stability control and ABS systems. There are six pre-set modes to choose from, including street mode, weather mode, rock mode and Baja mode, which is tailored specifically for high-speed desert driving.

A front locking differential is an optional extra, but we wouldn’t bother. If you can’t drive up an obstacle, you can always just go the hooligan route and jump straight over it.

As this vehicle will be the halo model in the F-150 range, it’s as plush as any boulevard cruiser you’d find on the streets of California. Standard kit includes paddle shifters to manually override the gearbox, climate control, touch-screen interface and model specific leather seats. Ford has even included a switch panel on the roof of the cab for any aftermarket equipment the owner might install.

You might be salivating at the thought of owning one of these things, but it was never meant to be. The Raptor is built for US consumption only and even if you have enough money to make the impossible happen, these things tend to sell out way in advance, which means there’s no real hope of finding one. The best the rest of us can hope for is to catch a lift with a friend of a friend in the US who actually has a Raptor. Until then, we can at least look at these stunning pictures.

The all-new Raptor goes on sale in the US in the autumn of 2016.