Here we have the much anticipated Ford Ranger Raptor, fresh from its debut in Thailand. The hot ute has much to live up to, but then again it fans would readily have only the F-150 Raptor as reference point for their expectations. Based on the facelifted T6 truck, the new Raptor brings the go-anywhere Ford Performance flavour to this corner (quarter) for the first time.
As in most markets - such as ours - the Raptor will sit at the top of the Ranger line-up, and while no prices were announced we can safely say that it will be a step up from the Wildtrak. But first let’s tackle the most pressing question, which concerns its powertrain.
Accurate to the rumours that trickled out over the months since its announcement, the Ranger Raptor is indeed a turbodiesel. Internally referred to as ‘Panther’, the engine stems from Ford’s EcoBlue family and displaces 2.0-litres over four-cylinders, with twin-turbochargers resulting in an output of 157kW and 500Nm - a 10kW and 50Nm advantage over the Wildtrak’s 3.2-litre inline-5. Towing capacity is published at 2,500kg.
The turbochargers themselves operate asymmetrically with one smaller turbine, which is provides low pressure boost and liquid cooled, to quickly spool at lower revs before handing primary induction duties to a second high pressure unit, with a bypass valve determining which is invoked according to situational needs.
Mated exclusively to this engine is a 10-speed automatic transmission, manufactured by Getrag. If that unit rings a bell, it’s been used a number of times in other Ford models (such as the F-150 Raptor and 2018 Mustang) as well as those under General Motors (such as the Camaro ZL1) since both automakers were involved in its development.
According to their own descriptions, the box occupies the same amount of space and weighs similarly to a 6-speed auto while shift speed is much closer to ZF’s category leading 8HP. Ford’s engineers say that the ratios are specific to this new engine to optimise power delivery and fuel efficiency. Naturally, the Ranger Raptor comes with paddle shifters, here made of magnesium.
The exterior is still very recognisable as T6 Ranger, and the more aggressive styling pack adds a touch more menace to the Raptor’s visual profile without taking things too far. There’s plenty of blacked-out elements such as the new grille, the frame mounted front bumper with high strength 2.3mm thick bash plate, wheel arch extensions, and rear bumper. New 17-inch alloys adorn the truck’s four corners, wrapped in a set of 285/70 profile BF Goodrich All-Terrains.
While not being too visible, the Ranger Raptor’s brakes have been upgraded to cope with the additional performance, with larger discs all around and twin-piston front callipers for a more effective bite. There’s canonical Lightning Blue metallic shown here nice contrast those aforesaid dark matte composite cladding, but will also be offered in Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White, and a unique colour to this new Ranger, Conquer Grey.
Both front and rear tracks have been widened by 150mm to 1,710mm while the suspension treatment results in ride height being increased to 283mm. Buffering each wheel are 46.6mm dampers from Fox Racing Shox, able to absorb punishing high speed off-road abuse while providing superior comfort while on-road. There’s also ford aluminium upper arms and cast aluminium lower arms for improved durability and handling.
Ford equips the Ranger Raptor with their Terrain Management System, offering 6 modes selectable from a dedicated switch mounted on the steering wheel, these include Normal, Sport, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock, and lastly Baja for high speed off-roading.
Ford Performance are sure that the F-150 Raptor’s DNA has made the transition into this new Ranger uncorrupted, saying: “It is amazing to enable this level of performance and create a vehicle that can provide off-road enthusiasts such an adrenaline rush,” said Jamal Hameedi, it’s chief engineer. “It really is like a motocross bike, snowmobile and an ATV rolled up into a pickup truck – it’s an incredible, awesome experience!”
Meanwhile Damien Ross, Chief Program Engineer for the Ranger Raptor, says: “The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available production road vehicle in our markets, and still ride like a millionaire on-road.”
Inside, the Ranger Raptor does receive some variant-specific goodies over the typical highly-specified T6. Naturally, there will be the 8-inch SYNC3 infotainment system and a bunch of active driver aids and pre-collision tech, but also some special semi-buckets that were designed with fast off-road performance in mind. Blue contrast stitching is abound, as well as lashings of leather trim and a sportier steering wheel.
Given the success and local ties of the Ranger specifically, it’s only a matter of time before Ford Australia offers these here. Interest will likely be very high all the up to its speculated local debut toward the latter half of 2018.