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Ranger Raptor – the real Raptor deal?

8 February 2018

The long-awaited Ford Ranger Raptor made its international debut in Thailand, and it is sure to get most Ford enthusiasts’ hearts pounding faster.

We use the word ‘most’ quite deliberately because not all dyed in the wool Ford fans will be keen on the two-litre twin-turbodiesel engine, which delivers 157kW and 500Nm of torque. Just hours after the official reveal social media platforms were already rife with naysayers lambasting Ford for not endowing the Ranger Raptor with a ‘real’ performance engine.

But according to Jamal Hameedi, Ford Performance’s chief engineer, people who criticize the two-litre bi-turbo oilburner and its power and torque figures don’t understand the concept behind the Raptor.

“The Ford F150 Raptor started it all, offering excellent fast off-road driving performance, and driving pleasure. The Ranger Raptor follows the same ethos. It’s fitted with a bespoke, specially designed Fox Racing Shox coilover shock absorbers, a unique Watt’s linkage rear suspension (instead of leaf springs), as well as ventilated disc brakes at the back (instead of drums). So, as a package, there is nothing in this class of pickup that comes close to the Ranger Raptor’s fast-paced off-road driving performance,” explained Hameedi.

There are many other upgrades too. The chassis has been beefed up to handle impacts associated with high-speed off-road racing, the track is more than 100mm wider than a standard Ranger, ground clearance has been increased to 283mm, and the bakkie is fitted with BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain 285/70 R17 tyres as standard.

The bi-turbo engine delivers 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque. A new 10-speed automatic gearbox and a transfer case (2.7:1 ratio) offer a selection between 2H, 4H and 4Low settings via a dial located behind the gear lever, in the centre console between the front seats.

Why a 10-speed gearbox? According to Ford the reason is simple: with so many ratios, the gearbox can always ensure that the engine is operating at its optimum efficiency, no matter if you are blasting through the desert or trying to burn as little fuel as possible.

Like its older brother, the F150 Raptor, the Ranger Raptor is fitted with a unique Terrain Management System (TMS). A five-button switch on the steering wheel offers a selection between the following on-road driving modes: Normal and Sport. For off-road applications the driver can choose between Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock and Baja modes.

The latter setting refers to the US’s most famous off-road race, the Baja 1000. In this setting vehicles responsiveness is tuned for high-speed off-road driving performance. The traction control system allows the driver more freedom, gear selection is optimised for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.

The Ford is fitted with comprehensive electronic stability control (ESC). The system includes trailer sway control, hill start assist, hill descent control and load adaptive control.

Styling wise the Ranger Raptor gets some unique finishes. Like the F150-style 17-inch rims, unique front fenders made from composite materials that dish up a distinctly sporty look along with a new front bumper with integrated LED fog lamps, a ‘Ford’ grille specially designed for the Raptor, aluminium Raptor side-steps, special high-strength tow hooks, a new rear bumper and the compulsory Raptor decals on the rear flanks.

Colour options will include Lightning Blue, Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White and Conquer Grey.

On the inside the Ranger Raptor features unique front seats, leather and suede for all the pews, perforated leather and blue stitching for the steering wheel (with a rally-style ‘on-centre’ marker in red), and lightweight magnesium paddle shifters for manual gear changes.

The good news from a South African perspective is that the Ranger Raptor will be built in Ford’s Silverton plant, in Pretoria. This will hopefully mean a slightly reduced asking price – if the vehicle had to be fully imported some taxes and fees would have been added, hiking the asking price.

So what about that big question then… how much will the Ranger Raptor go for? Well, consider that the top Ford Ranger Wildtrak 3.2TDCi 4×4 AT nowadays retail for R650 000. So a realistic price point will probably be between R700 000 and R750 000.

And timing? Expect the Ranger Raptor on your local Ford dealership floor possibly by the end of 2018, or early in 2019.

Will South Africans take to that two-litre diesel mill? Time will tell. There is some hope on the long-term horizon though. The Ranger Raptor will probably make it to the North American market in 2019. Americans don’t do diesel so well, so we’ll bet our bottom dollar that they will get a turbocharged petrol version. Here’s hoping that, if such a Ranger Raptor sees the light, it will make its way onto local Ford showroom floors too.