After months of anticipation, Ford has lifted the lid on their hardcore offroad performance bakkie, the Ranger Raptor, to the media in Thailand.
In terms of niche markets, a dedicated performance bakkie is pretty close to the top of the pile but, with the success of their left-hand drive only F150 Raptor pickup, Ford decided to try out a similar strategy with their Ranger.
And just look at it, it's a beast, and it's not just a fancy body kit either. Purpose-built from the ground up, it's bigger than the standard Ranger and, with that bold Ford logo on the grille, body flares, plenty of vents, and new LED fog lamps, it's clearly built for a purpose.
So it looks tough as nails and, thanks to components that are made of strengthened materials, it's tough as nails too. And then there are the colours; Race Red, Lightning Blue and the hero colour, Conquer Grey.
Looking past its outer shell, the Raptor is 1 873 mm tall, 2 180 mm wide and 5 398 mm long, while its wider front and rear tracks sit at 1 710 mm. It rides higher too, ground clearance is 283 mm, approach angle is 32.5°, ramp over angle is 24° and departure angle is 24°.
Ford claims that the Raptor's suspension has been tuned for high-speed off-road performance and, as such, features new coil-over rear suspension using a Watt’s link setup and solid rear axle. Fox Racing Shox take care of dampening and have been designed to take on punishing terrain.
The brakes are also uprated for high-performance and sit inside 17-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 rubber.
Underneath the Raptor is a bash plate made from 2.3mm thick high-strength steel as well as engine and gearbox under shields to protect its vulnerable underparts.
The initial assembly will be in Thailand and Ford South Africa's plant in Silverton, Pretoria, will come online later as the vehicle is scheduled to go on sale locally in 2019.
There is a 5-button switch on the steering wheel that operates the 6 available driving modes. There are two on-road modes (Normal and Sport) and four off-road modes (Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand and Baja) – the only one that may need an explanation is the latter.
Named after Mexico's hardcore Baja Rally, Ford tells us that "vehicle responsiveness is tuned for high-speed off-road performance, just like the drivers need in the famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are toned down in terms of intervention to allow spirited off-road driving without fighting the vehicle’s onboard systems. Gear selection is optimized for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively". Awesome!
Technology and safety
Climbing aboard and you'll notice some sporty touches like blue stitching, sportier seats and a sportier steering wheel that includes gearbox paddle shifters. Ford has included the latest version of their Sync3 connectivity which includes satellite navigation on an eight-inch colour LCD screen. Also included are rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. On the safety side, the bakkie boasts 7 airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Load Adaptive Control (LAC).
Lifting up the bonnet and you'll be surprised to see a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine. (Cue comments from the Amarok brigade) Interestingly, it delivers 10kW and 30 Nm more than the current Wildtrak, pushing out 157 kW and 500 Nm, with power transferred to the wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. This also means that the new Ford Ranger Raptor is rated to tow 2 500 kg.
So, what do you think of the Ford Ranger Raptor? We think it's about time.
Check out the video below for more.