The new Ford Ranger Raptor
South Africans love bakkies (pick-up trucks to everyone else). They form a part of our culture. In fact, its almost an unspoken requirement that all South Africans should at some point own a bakkie. In recent years, manufacturers have started offering bakkies that are more comfortable, more fuel efficient, and that are now better suited to be the answer to almost everything you could ask from your car. In fact, the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux are two of the best-selling vehicles in South Africa, showing how much buyers value the do anything capability that they offer. Ford has been bringing the fight straight to Toyota for the last few years. And now, they have a game changer. Ford has made its first Ford Performance vehicle built in South Africa. Welcome, to the Ford Ranger Raptor.
The Ranger Raptor has been built with off-roading as its main focus. Gone are the chrome bumpers and bull bars, and in their place, we find a blacked out grille, and a smaller, angled bumper which features a 2.3mm bash plate, allowing the front of the Raptor to be protected. The front headlights are similar to the normal Ranger and feature Full LEDs, although we suspect many owners will add their own aftermarket lightbar. Looking at the car dead on from the front though, we notice the Raptor sits 51 mm higher, with the ground clearance now at an impressive 283mm. The front and rear tracks have been widened by 150mm, to afford the Raptor greater off-road ability. This complemented by a new 850mm wading depth.
Moving down the side of the Raptor we notice the flared our wheel arches, under which the new off-road tyres from BF Goodrich sit. Also, an upgraded braking system features to make the Raptor better to drive. However, the main focus of the Raptor is its suspension. Gone is the old leaf sprung system from the rear of the normal Ranger, and its place we find new rear coil-over suspension, which has been integrated with a Watt’s linkage system. This allows for more vertical movement in the suspension while minimising any lateral movement. Ford also partnered with Fox Suspension to develop position-sensitive dampers, like those found in the American F-150 Raptor. This allows for more wheel travel when off-roading, while simultaneously improving comfort on road.
The load bed has the typical “Raptor” sticker along its side, which we are sure to see replicated on other bakkies shortly. Other than a badge on the rear tailgate, nothing gives away that this is Ford’s high-performance bakkie. Except, though, for what lies under the hood. Gone is the 3.2 litre from the Wildtrak and in its place we find a brand spanking new 2.0 litre, biturbo 4-cylinder diesel, mated to a 10 speed (yes, 10 speed) automatic gearbox, co-developed by GM and Ford. The new engine produces 157kW and an ample 500NM of torque. Although some may bemoan what seems to be a lack of power (after all the F150 Raptor produces around 300kW), the power produced by this engine is more than enough to get you well beyond the national speed limit without you realising it. Also, the off-roading abilities, and rice of the Raptor would’ve been impacted negatively by a more powerful engine. A new feature, the 10-speed gearbox, can be controlled by paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
Speaking of the steering wheel, let’s move onto the interior. Of course, the Ranger has just gotten an update across its line-up, although much has remained the same. What has changed is the steering wheel, which is now a bit thinner, and offers grooves onto which you can comfortably rest your hands whilst off-roading, and off course, behind the wheel are the shift paddles as previously mentioned. At the top of the steering wheel, we find an interesting touch – a red leather strip indicating the “straight ahead” point.
Moving on to the rest of the interior, the only significant change is the new Sync 3 infotainment system found in new Ford models, which is more responsive, and allows smartphone mirroring through Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The rest of the interior is solidly built, although it isn’t as plush as the VW Amarok. It features very comfortable front seats, which also hold you in quite nicely when you’re driving enthusiastically. The rear seats feature more than enough space to fit 3 across in comfort for those long trips to the Kalahari.
Of course, there are some downsides to the Raptor. With the new suspension, the payload has gone down. Instead of the usual 1 ton, only 750kgs can be loaded onto the load bed. And towing has also gone down from around 3 tonnes, to just 2,5 tonnes. So, if loading a lot of stuff and towing even more stuff is on your list of requirements for a bakkie, maybe give the Raptor a miss. That said though, with most off-road enthusiasts willing to make the sacrifice, and with image-conscious bakkie buyer not too worried about their vehicle payload, the sacrifice is one that many buyers will easily make.
The Ranger Raptor is now available for sale, although it may take some time to get your hands on one, give the demand for it. It costs R786 400, and although that is a lot of money for a bakkie, it is well worth it. Not only do you have the perfect one car garage, but you also have a bakkie that can go anywhere you want to take it. Make your way to your nearest Ford Dealership. You know you want it.