Proudly South African Ranger Raptor takes the venerable bakkie into a new realm
We all know what a supercar is. But what about a super bakkie? Well, here’s the first.
The Ford Ranger Raptor takes a completely different route to chase the King of Bakkies crown. It’s no more powerful than a regular Ranger Wildtrak with Ford’s latest bi-turbodiesel 2-litre and high tech 10-speed automatic. But everything else about it is completely radical.
Raptor appears to have escaped the Dakar paddock. It’s a cool blend of race bakkie aggro and super contemporary street cred. Flared composite fenders accommodate long-travel suspension and custom BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres.
That’s punctuated by special bash plates, LED fog lamps, slick air-curtains and bold badges across the sides and back proclaim what it is and render Raptor bang up to the minute. Happily this one’s hideous sticker panels are only optional!
RAPTOR IS JUST AS COOL INSIDE TOO
Ranger’s already well appointed cab gains blue stitching and leather accents. A raft of neat interior touches including unique Tech Suede-trimmed optimum support sports seats. They really work in high-performance off-road driving and are also comfy cruising downtown.
Red-needled Raptor dials sit behind the paddle-shifter steering wheel in leather with a racing red centre marker. All make for a cool driving environment, even if that cockpit is starting to look a tad aged now.
There’s nothing unique under the bonnet. Raptor uses the same Ford SA-built 157 kW 500 Nm 2-litre bi-turbodiesel from the Wildtrak. It has a small high-pressure turbo. And a large low-pressure charger. The quick-shifting 10-speed automatic gets real-time adaptive shift-scheduling for 8.3 l/100km and 220 g/km efficiency and turns Ranger’s tried and tested dual-range 4×4 system.
RAPTOR REALLY HAPPENS OUTSIDE THE ENGINE BAY
It’s s beyond that pedigree kit where Raptor all happens. Ford has left no stone unturned in realising this sublime super-bakkie. Developed to be fit for purpose from the ground up, it starts with Ranger’s high-strength low-alloy steel Ranger ladder. It’s specially adapted to accept a raft of dramatic suspension improvements. And deliver significantly enhanced wheel travel to meet most extreme driving expectations.
To that, Ford applies custom aluminium control arms up front, The 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. That’s all controlled by the piece de resistance: Four race-like ultra-high performance Fox position sensitive dampers. All that conspires to deliver 32% more front and 22% improved rear wheel travel over a stock Ranger.
But that’s not all. Raptor’s Terrain Management System adds a wild traction control optimised Baja driving mode. It holds gears longer, downshifts more aggressively and adopts an aggressive electronic power steering mode. New twin-piston callipers up front clamp monster vented disc brakes all round with a separate rear booster. Bespoke tough-sidewall high performance BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres ensure ultimate high-speed off-road performance.
TALLER, BROADER, HIGHER OFF THE GROUND
So, Raptor rides 51mm taller with a massive 283mm ground clearance, has 150mm wider front and rear tracks. That brings extreme 4×4 credentials including significant 850mm 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 Wildtrak 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.
But to relate to the Ford Ranger Raptor, you need to find an extreme mountain logging trail. Or a rutted and washed away wagon track and attack it as we did. As if you were fighting Nasser off to win next year’s Dakar. This super bakkie is at its very best tackling the toughest terrain flat out. Something it achieves at astounding ease. All while retaining quite incredible levels of control and comfort.
SIMPLY STUNNING OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Simply stunning off the beaten track, Raptor soaks up anything you throw at. It handles like a race truck and delivers stupendous driving ability. Hovering over whatever terrain it’s passing over at race pace, as if suspended from above. As those Fox shocks and impeccable race underpinnings frantically deal with the terrain. A magic carpet ride on the best extreme off road ride suspension on the market.
Raptor is supremely fun to drive. Especially with all its nannies extinguished to allow the best that bi-turbodiesel lump can muster. Not that it is far off the turbodiesel bakkie acme — it’s just a couple of tenths shy of the similarly endowed Wildtrak’s record 0-100. Still, it produces too little power to properly test this incredible chassis.
Which is the Ford Ranger Raptor’s biggest challenge. It’s under-armed to really test this quite sublime chassis. For that needs a good old Mustang V8. Or Ford’s high-tech GT V6 to deliver on the bakkie holy grail it promises and comes so close to achieve.
Raptor is also super difficult to drive in town and this one was rowdy in the cabin on the cruise — the wind noise made it impossible to judge how much those knobby tyres whine. But let’s not split hairs now…
QUITE POSSIBLY THE COOLEST BAKKIE BARGAIN ANYWHERE
For us, the real attraction is that price. At eight hundred grand in SA versus the well over a million it costs overseas, Raptor represents the ultimate performance vehicle bargain.
Purpose built to deliver off-road dynamics unlike any bakkie before it, there remains no doubt that the Ford Ranger Raptor has rewritten the bakkie record books for good. This is the real thing!. — Michele Lupini
Images: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Ford Ranger Raptor Engine:157kW 500Nm 2-litre biturbodiesel I4 Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4 Payload: 750kg 6 Towing Capacity: 2500kg 5 TESTED: 0-60km/h: 4.11 sec 9 0-100km/h: 9.69 sec 9 0-160km/h: 8.80 sec 400m: 16.9 sec @ 131 km/h 9 80-120km/h: 7.45 sec 9 120-160km/h: 14.83 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 190km/h Fuel: 8.3 l/100km 6 CO2: 220 g/km 6 Warranty/Service: 4y 120K/6y 90K km 8 LIST PRICE: R875K 8 RATED: 75