Raptor is the best R1.2 million you’ll spend on a new car

People often ask, if I have so much money, what’s the best new car I can buy for that? Right now, we’d not hesitate to tell you that you simply cannot spend a better R1.2-million on anything but a new Ford Ranger Raptor.

That R1.2 million neck of the woods is a pretty busy place right now, mind you. You can get an Audi RS3, RSQ3, or an S5, a BMW M340i or a midrange X3, an AMG A 35, or a Merc GLC, or even a Porsche Macan for that. And a whole lot more sexy metal too. But this mad Ford bakkie takes the cake, and this is why…


Raptor built to master the mountain

Blue Oval suits tell us that this second-generation Raptor built to dominate the desert, master the mountains, and rule the rest, is the ultimate performance Ranger. We’d go as far as to say that it’s the ultimate performance bakkie. Never mind the finest of any terrain crushing new vehicle you can just walk into your local car dealer and buy.

The Raptor blends raw power with high tech class to deliver the most advanced Ranger yet. And it screams that from the moment you set eyes on it. Aided and abetted by this one’s vibrator orange hue, we’d leave that cheap plastic restaurant tablecloth wallpaper off. But for the rest, its pure sexy.

Raptor’s presence is unmistakable. Baja-like beadlock-capable 17-inch forged alloy wheels in BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tyres still have lots of space to manoeuvre under those flared arches. This one’s signature Ford truck C-clamp DRL Matrix LED headlights are as cool as they look. They get dynamic-bending, glare-free high beam, and dynamic-levelling too.


Show to match the Raptor go!

Bold Ford script spreads across the grille, above a separate bumper and down to significant underbody protection underneath. Raptor features functional vent aerodynamics. The tough cast aluminium side steps are far more than just embellishments on this bakkie. Move to the back to find LED taillights, a handy integrated step, and the towbar tucked up high for the best departure angle. The open bak has tough black cladding.

Swing the door open to reveal more comfortable and supportive orange accented sports seats front and rear. Built in Thailand, this Raptor almost entirely lacked the quality issues that concerned us about on early build local models. Most of that has improved on more recent Silverton-built Rangers and Amaroks we had. And we look forward to seeing Raptor level quality on all of them going forward.

Back to the point, this Raptor get-up further differentiates, and dare we say, improves Ranger’s fully digital cabin. Much of it is familiar. The high resolution 12.4-inch digital gauges have their own special Raptor theme. As does the AV connective Carplay and Auto 12-inch Ford SYNC4 infotainment touchscreen. It brings wireless smartphone connectivity and a delightful Bang & Olufsen sound system too.

An excellent Ford Performance cabin

Ford Performance has done a very good job on the Raptor’s cabin. Not only does it look very much the part, but those seats are cool to sit in. Yes we have our reservations on some of the infotainment control bits being too far removed from reality. And some say the portrait screen is not for them. But Raptor makes up for it with a comprehensive suite of controls on the multifunction steering wheel and elsewhere, to keep it all balanced.

OK. Enough of the semantics. Ford calls its 292 kW and 583 Nm biturbo 3-litre EcoBoost V6 new. Well, maybe in this market. But it’s been around a while. Among its other claims to fame is that it powered those GT supercars to victory in Ford’s Le Mans GT3 comeback a few years back. So this 75 percent stronger and stiffer compacted graphite-iron cylinder block V6 really is race bred!

Among its other advantages, this biturbo lump has anti-lag in its Raptor get-up. Like rally cars use faux ignition to pop, bang and spin the turbo up, Ford has introduced a subtly more reliable patented throttle bypass system to ensure boost on demand. This keeps the turbos spinning for three seconds after you lift off the throttle in anger, for instant response when you flatten it again.


Raptor engineers never had enough toys!

Talking about turbos and exhausts, Raptor has an active exhaust system to amplify engine noise in four stages. From the standard Quiet, to Normal, Sport and Baja. The three steering wheel button-selectable modes are all noisy. Clearly the Raptor’s development engineers never had enough toys when they were young. Would just Normal and Baja not do the trick?

The V6 is mated to a 10-speed gearbox. A contentious choice, this Mustang derived automatic may keep the chat forums fired up, but it really is a great box on, and off the road. Unless you’re really pushing it in the sportier modes, its invisible, when you need to keep an eye on the tacho to understand that it’s eternally swapping cogs.

That drives the Raptor’s exclusive and advanced permanent four-wheel drive system. It has an electronically controlled on-demand two-speed transfer case and front and rear locking differentials. Unlike regular Ranger 4x4s that default to rear drive, Raptor runs in constantly variable all-wheel drive 4A mode. Select 2H, 4H and 4L via the bezel on the centre console.


An impeccable technical pedigree

Raptor also has seven driving modes. Normal, Sport and Slippery road functions. And Sand through Mud and Ruts to Rock Crawl and the mad all-out extreme off-road racing Baja mode for the dirt. In short, Raptor has the ability to accelerate effortlessly on gravel, dirt, mud, or sand thanks to an impeccable technical pedigree.

But that’s only half the story. We have not even started to consider its long travel front and rear suspension yet… Packing next-generation lightweight aluminium Fox 2.5-inch live valve dampers, forged front control arms, and a refined Watt’s link rear end, the Raptor’s core is quite simply next level.

Those Fox live dampers for instance pack optimised valve tuning, spring rates and ride height settings. Being active means that you can set them via the touch of another steering wheel button. To deliver sublime street, capable off-road or extreme Baja modes. And perfectly balance between comfort, control, stability, and traction, both on, and off the road.


Raptor handles the most punishing conditions

The shocks feature racy bottom-out control for maximum damping through the last quarter of shock travel. And 50% Teflon-infused friction reducing oil for optimum performance. That’s aided and abutted by Raptor specific chassis reinforcements to handle the most punishing off-road conditions.

Topping, or should that rather read bottoming all that off, Raptor’s extreme underbody protection starts with a double size, 2.3 mm thick high-strength steel front bash plate. It has double recovery hooks front and rear, while guards extend along the belly to protect all those gubbins from even the most extreme of use.

All of that endows Raptor with both exceptional road ability and body control while also being able to deal with the most severe bumps, ruts, and corrugations, flat out off-road. In other words, Raptor delivers maximum control and performance, no matter what your driving environment.


A gentle giant on the road

On the road, Raptor is a composed, gentle giant. Drive it nice and it even pretends to be economical. But push it and it becomes a glutton at an instant. But man, does it run! Not only does it deliver great road holding on the tar in the correct mode, ultimately governed by how much that cross country rubber will muster, but this is the quickest ladder chassis bakkie we have ever tested.

Looking at our test records, the venerable Toyota Hilux 4-litre V6 delivered 100 km/h in 8.3 seconds about ten years ago. The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon more recently matched that but both were humbled by turbodiesel V6 duo, the already extinct Mercedes-Benz X350, which did 100 in 7.8 seconds. And the old V6 Amarok, which rocketed to 100 in 7.6 seconds.

So, with at 5.9 seconds to 100 km/h, the Ford Ranger Raptor trounces those chassis frame bakkies. It’s not the quickest bakkie we have ever tested, however. The monocoque Chevrolet Ute SS sprinted to 100 in 5.6 seconds, while Lupini Power’s Supercharged SuperUte took all of 4.9 seconds to do so. But those were strictly street bakkies.


Raptor is twice the fun of a supercar

The difference between the Ranger Raptor and all its rivals, however, is how incredibly this bakkie covers even the most extreme terrain with astounding aplomb. There’s no other vehicle out there to compare this trait to. Only a dirt bike, or a rally-raid racing truck. Aim it where you want it to go, plant it and Raptor will float over it at absurd ease.

Drive onto the tarmac, rotate a bezel, finger button or two and it transforms into a sportscar to keep even the most spirited driver rapt across a paved mountain pass. Huge fun, all the way. Is there any real reason for such gargantuan ability in an everyday road car? Surely not! Never mind, Raptor is an absolute glutton on fuel compromised load and tow ability.

But then can any supercar ever officially exist anywhere near the edges its envelope? And still they sell too. The only difference here, is that the Ford Ranger Raptor is more of an off-road supercar, which right now makes it pretty unique.

So believe us when we tell you that the Ford Ranger Raptor id the best R1.2 million you can spend on any new car right now. And twice as much fun as the next. Bravo, Ford! – Michele Lupini

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Ford Ranger Raptor
Engine: 292 kW 583 Nm biturbo 3-litre V6
Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4
Load Capacity:    650 kg
Braked Trailer:   2,500 kg
0-60 km/h:        2.89 sec
0-100 km/h:       5.97 sec
0-120 km/h:       8.01 sec
0-160 km/h:       14.34 sec
400m:             14.3 sec @ 160 km/h
80-120 km/h:      3.74 sec
120-160 km/h:     6.21 sec
VMax:             180 km/h
Fuel:             11.5 l/100 km
CO2:              262 g/km
Range:            700 km
Warranty/Service: 4y 120K/up to 8y 165K km
LIST PRICE:       R1.184M
RATED:            9
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