Raptor SE

Sexier Raptor SE asks questions about what Ford’s up to next with Ranger

With the new Ford Ranger’s international reveal just a week away, the Motor Company is flat out disposing of the old one in the colonies, as dealers prepare to stock up with that new one in a few months. So, special edition Rangers are flavour of the month right now and not even the mighty Raptor is exempt from that slap and tickle. Tho that end, we just had the run-out raptor SE to sample. Yes, SE literally means Special Edition!

More Mascara to Say Goodbye

Anyway, this one is just about moving a bit more metal and while its just a little mascara they’ve slapped on, we’d never turn down the chance to spend a little more time with our ageing friend. And at the same time consider the future of this so far unique bakkie. The PR bumf confirms Raptor SE gains an integrated sports hoop to add a dash more dynamic, while a lockable Mountain Top black roller shutter bay top brings a touch of practicality. And security for your load

Not so sure about that ‘racing stripes’ sticker kit on this one’s blue hue. But it’ll probably pop on a white Raptor. They also had the red paint out for those front tow hooks. And matt black for the fender extenders, Ford grille and other finishes. Seems they had spare red thread at Ford too. For the stitching inside. The centreline paddle-shifter multifunction steering wheel sits behind cool red-needled dials with an extra slap of Raceway Gray. All of which adds R45K to the sticker price.

Beyond that, Raptor continues as it was on several international markets. But the US still does without. More on that anon. No more powerful than a regular Ranger Wildtrak in European, African, Antipodean and other climes, Ford’s 157 kW 500 2-litre bi-turbodiesel does duty turning the usual 4×4 drive via a 10-speed automatic. But the rest is radical. As if it escaped the Dakar paddock. Ranger Raptor is a cool blend of race bakkie aggro and super contemporary street cred.

Racy Seats Earn their Sports Name

Flared composite fenders accommodate long-travel suspension and custom BF Goodrich rubber. Aggro bash plates protect the underbelly below LED fog lamps, slick air-curtains and those racy stickers. That extra red stitching adds to many a rad accent in the albeit agedleather and Tech Suede trimmed cabin. Like neat optimum support sports seats that really work in high-performance off-road driving. And are just as comfy cruising downtown.

Under the bonnet, that 2-litre bi-turbodiesel has a small high-pressure turbo. And a large low-pressure charger for optimal derv output across the rev range. The quick-shifting 10-speed autoboxg with real-time adaptive shift-scheduling ensured perfomance. And 8.3 l/100km and 220 g/km efficiency. Beyond that, Ford has left no stone unturned in realising this sublime super-bakkie.

Raptor’s high-strength steel ladder chassis is specially adapted to accommodate dramatic suspension improvements and significantly improved wheel travel. To meet most extreme driving expectations. Front suspension gains forged aluminium control arms, while the solid axle leaf spring set-up is tossed and replaced by a bespoke and completely re-engineered rear end . It’s Watt’s linkage allows unlimited vertical rear axle movement and no lateral play.

Fox Shocks Steal RANGER RAPTOR Show

The Ranger Raptor piece de resistance is however a quartet of race-like ultra-high performance Fox position sensitive dampers. For 32% front and 22% more rear wheel travel. Raptor’s Terrain Management System adds a wild traction control optimised Baja driving mode. To hold gears longer, downshift more aggressively and sharpen up the electronic power steering. And twin-pot callipers up front clamp monster vented disc brakes with a separate rear booster.

So, Raptor rides 51 mm taller with a massive 283 mm ground clearance, has 150 mm wider front and rear tracks. That brings extreme 4×4 credentials including significant 850 mm wading, 32.5-degree approach, 22-degree ramp-over and 24-degree departure angles. Aided and abetted by a special integrated heavy-duty tow bar and that stronger, thicker, tougher high-strength steel bash plate for ultimate underbody protection.

There are a few compromises — Raptor drops a tonne in towing capacity versus the regular top-end 4×4 and it can now ‘only’ pull up to 2500kg. Load capacity is slightly compromised too. So you will need to leave the second horse out of the box and only tow a small race car on the trailer. Not your muscle car.

RAPTOE SE Simply Astounding on the Dirt

But to fully relate to the Ford Ranger Raptor, you will need to find an extreme mountain logging trail. Or a rutted and washed away wagon track. Even some tricky dunes and attack them as we did. As if you’re fighting Al Attiyah off to win next year’s Dakar. This super bakkie is at its very best tackling the toughest terrain flat out. Something it achieves with astounding ease. All while retaining quite incredible levels of control and comfort.

Raptor handles like a race truck, soaks up anything you throw at it and rewards the driver with stupendous ability. It hovers over whatever terrain at race pace as if suspended from above. Leaving those impeccable Fox shocks and race underpinnings to frantically deal with the terrain like a magic carpet ride. Even if it’s a bit cumbersome to drive in town, is a little rowdy when cruising and those knobby tyres whine on the freeway.

Yet as supremely fun it is to drive, Ranger Raptor SE however remains one heavily under-engined bakkie. Which leads us to the future. The bakkie world is waiting with bated breath for the new Ranger to break cover next week. Ford promises it will be the smartest, most capable and most versatile yet, as part of an international launch. Built in the US, South Africa, the Phillppines and in South America too. For dale on a truly international scale.

But What About a US Ranger Raptor SE?

Yet while this Raptor has been all the rage around the world, the US market has found no reason to launch it yet. Which may well change, should speculation on the new Ranger bear fruit. Some suggest than the all-new that T6.2 Ranger will gain a pair of 185 kW 600 Nm single-turbo 3-litre diesel and a 230 kW 540 Nm 2.7-litre biturbo petrol V6s over and above the existing ranges. Also expect hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions in the longer term. And an all-new Raptor, too.

All US Rangers are currently sold with just one engine — the 269 hp 310 lb.-ft twin-scroll turbocharged Ford EcoBoost 2.3 turning the same 10-speed automatic. Were those new V6s to make a bow in the next Ranger, that couold very well entice Ford in the US to introduce a Raptor version of the Ranger at last. Alongside its F150 and forthcoming Bronco brethren, and the like.

Getting back to the here and now however, in the South African market where we jugged this new SE, the Ford Ranger Raptor represents the ultimate performance vehicle bargain. Now with even a bit more too. Purpose built to deliver off-road dynamics unlike any before it, the Ford Ranger Raptor has rewritten the bakkie record books for good. Now the SE just adds a little extra style. — Michele Lupini

Images: Marcella Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Ford Ranger Raptor Special Edition
Engine:157 kW 500 Nm 2-litre biturbodiesel I4
Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4
Payload:          750 kg
Towing Capacity:  2,500 kg
0-60 km/h:        4.11 sec
0-100 km/h:       9.69 sec
0-160 km/h:       8.80 sec
400m:             16.9 sec @ 131 km/h
80-120 km/h:      7.45 sec
120-160 km/h:     14.83 sec
VMax:             190km/h
Fuel:             8.3 l/100km
CO2:              220 g/km
Warranty/Service: 4y 120K/6y 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R 950K
RATED:            9
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