After months of baiting us with unconfirmed specifications and camouflage video footage of it tearing up the Australian Outback, Ford’s most anticipated bakkie of 2018 has been revealed. Meet the Ranger Raptor.
Due to be built at the Silverton facility outside of Pretoria and released to the local market in 2019, this is truly all the 2/3rds F-150 Raptor South African buyers have always desired. It might be a point of contention that it’s only powered by a 2-litre engine (vindication, Amarok owners?), and that you fuel it with 50ppm instead of 95-unleaded, but look beyond the engine size and this is a magnificently accomplished feat of engineering.
Effectively the reaction to righthand drive Ford bakkie markets in South Africa and Australia complaining incessantly at being denied an F-150 Raptor, this new Ranger has no rival – in theory.
Styling echoes the F-150 Raptor, with a blacked-out grille and wider fenders, whilst inside little has changed but for a red steering guide insert on the wheel rim and paddle-shifters, the latter a debut feature on any Ranger. The bits you are really interested in are under that bonnet and hidden at each of Ranger Raptor’s four wheel corners.
Outputs from the turbocharged 2-litre diesel are 157kW and 500Nm, driving through a ten-speed transmission. Yes, that’s not a mistake: it has ten gears and a special sand racing off-road driving mode. Making sure that all those toques and kilowatts are converted to speed instead of getting stuck, are custom Fox-suspension components and a coil-over Watts-link rear axle. Rolling 285/70 profile BF Goodrich tyres will guarantee immense traction and sand flotation when required.
In terms of configuration its shares nothing with any conventional Ranger related to drivetrain, engine or suspension set-up. This is a very, very unique and trick bakkie. Demand will be huge, and Ford deserves credit for investing the engineering resources to make this happen. No doubt the reintroduction of T6 Ranger to the American market has helped make a business case for the development of a Raptor version.
Hopefully this spurs Toyota to counter with a TRD Hilux of its own. For those who prefer their performance a bit more stealth, well, an Amarok V6 is ahead the Ranger on power, and has more torque. And Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class 350d makes more power and torque too. Decisions, decisions.