Yes, the new Ford Ranger Raptor is coming to SA

Yes, the new Ford Ranger Raptor is coming to SA
 

There’s good and bad news for all those who have pimped up their Ford Rangers with after-market accessories to try making them look like the US’s legendary F-150 Raptor.

The bad news is that in 2019 their bakkies will look even more fake because the real Ranger Raptor is coming to SA. The good news is that the real Ranger Raptor is coming to SA.

It’s the first time Ford has developed a Raptor version of the Ranger and it will also be built right here in SA alongside the new Ranger at the Ford plant in Rosslyn near Pretoria.

The new model was revealed in Thailand and the company was keen to emphasise it is not about power and performance but rather about a vehicle that has been “designed by Ford Performance team for the true enthusiast off-roader”. The emphasis is because, on paper, the new Ranger Raptor looks like it has brought a knife to a gun fight.

Not only does it lack the in-your-face looks and attitude of the F-150 Raptor, but instead of getting an EcoBoost engine as we all expected (there were even rumours that Ford would shoehorn in the EcoBoost engine from the GT supercar), the company has put a 2.0-litre biturbo diesel unit under the bonnet developing 157kW and 500Nm. In a traffic-light showdown it will not only be beaten by the latest Volkswagen Amarok V6 but by a 2011 Nissan Navara V9X.

But Ford says it is about performance off-road, not on tarmac, so we need to look beyond the figures. It’s easy to see the size difference, with the Raptor having wider front and rear tracks at 1 710mm and an increase in ground clearance to 283mm. Approach and departure angles are said also to be more than that of a regular Ranger.

The wheel arches are significantly bigger to house 17-inch alloys with all-terrain BF Goodrich 285/70 tyres and uprated suspension. The suspension is the main engineering point, with new straightened, protruding shock absorber towers and a bespoke coilover rear suspension setup with an integrated Watt’s linkage that minimises lateral movement while providing maximum vertical travel. Position-sensitive damping shock absorbers have been calibrated to provide maximum damping forces off-road while being suitable on-road.

The chassis is unique to the model and is designed to travel at high speed off-road and even go beyond that to be suitable for off-road racing.

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available production road vehicle in our markets, and still ride like a millionaire on-road,” says Damien Ross, Ranger Raptor chief programme engineer.

There is tech in the form of the Terrain Management System, which includes six driving modes. As well as the usual on- and off-road modes you’d expect, there is a special Baja mode, named after the famous off-road racing series in the US. This setting has been designed for high-speed off-road performance, reducing systems intervention and catering for more aggressive gear shifting.

The Raptor gets Ford’s new 10-speed automatic gearbox, which will arrive in the imminent facelift of the Mustang.

Inside there will also be some Ford Performance treatment as well as the Sync 3 infotainment system. – Mark Smyth