Ford Ranger Raptor

Ranger Raptor rewrites records

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 claim its 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 Dakar in its 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, 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!

Cockpit cool
Ranger’s already well appointed cab gains blue stitching and leather accents among a raft of neat interior touches including unique Tech Suede-trimmed optimum support sports seats that really work in high-performance off-road driving, but 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 157kW 500Nm 2-litre bi-turbodiesel that powers the Wildtrak utilising both a small high-pressure turbo and a large low-pressure turbocharger for best and also 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 4x4 system.

But it is beyond that pedigree kit where Raptor all happens and that is where 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 frame specially adapted to accept a raft of dramatic suspension improvements and deliver significantly enhanced wheel travel to meet most extreme driving expectations.

Supreme Suspension
To that, Ford applies custom aluminium control arms up front while the leaf spring set-up is tossed and replaced by a bespoke and completely re-engineered Watt’s linkage rear end with 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 of which components come together to deliver 32% more front and 22% improved rear wheel travel over a standard Ranger.

But that’s not all — Raptor’s Terrain Management System adds a wild traction control optimised Baja driving mode that also holds gears longer, downshifts more aggressively and adopts an aggressive electronic power steering mode, while new twin-piston brake callipers up front clamp monster vented discs all round with a separate rear booster and those bespoke tough sidewall high performance BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres for ultimate high-speed off-road performance.

So Raptor rides 51mm taller with a massive 283mm ground clearance, has 150mm wider front and rear tracks and brings extreme 4x4 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, while 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 Alonso 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, it soaks up anything you throw at it, handles like a racer and delivers stupendous driving ability — Raptor hovers over whatever terrain it's passing over at race pace as those Fox shocks and impeccable race underpinnings frantically deal with the terrain to leave you on a veritable magic carpet ride inside thanks to simply the best extreme off road ride quality available on the market today.

Raptor is huge fun to drive — especially with all its nannies extinguished to allow it to eke 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, but to be fair, it produces too little power to properly test its incredible chassis. 

If anything, Raptor’s biggest challenge is that it is under-armed to really test its quite sublime chassis — something it would need a good V8 or Ford’s high-tech GT V6 to really deliver on the bakkie holy grail it promises and comes so close to achieving. 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...

For us, the real attraction is 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 & Giordano Lupini

Images: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Ford Ranger Raptor  
Engine:157kW 500Nm 1998cc biturbodiesel I4     
Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4
Payload:                     750kg
Towing Capacity:          2500kg
0-60km/h:                4.11 sec
0-100km/h:              9.69 sec
0-160km/h:              28.80 sec
400m:                      16.9 sec @ 131km/h       
80-120km/h:                  7.45 sec
120-160km/h:          14.83 sec
VMax:                       190km/h 
Fuel:                         8.3 l/100km
CO2:                         220 g/km 
Warranty/Service:     4y 120K/6y 90Kkm 
LIST PRICE:                    R803K
RATED:                           92%