Ford Ranger Raptor 3.0 V6 4WD. Picture: Ford SA.
Ford Ranger Raptor 3.0 V6 4WD. Picture: Ford SA.
The new Ford Ranger Raptor – the second such sports truck from Ford Performance in South Africa – is as badass as the Arnie when he dons a leather jacket for the first time in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, so is rising inflation in South Africa, that the Ford Ranger Raptor doesn’t have the R1 million bakkie club all to itself anymore. I wonder if a bad attitude and rip-snorting twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol motor are enough to steal buyers away from their Volkswagen Amaroks, Jeep Gladiators and Ineos Quartermasters?
Well, as expensive as it may sound if you can only afford a fourth-hand Conquest, an asking price of just R1 184 100 is actually pretty good value when you consider what you’re getting. And, might I add, when you realise it is exactly comparable with what the Ford Ranger Raptor retails for in America. For an outlay of more than a bar, you can let your imagination run wild and allow this sports truck be anything you want it to be.
One of those things is a surprisingly good-looking bakkie. When you first clap eyes on it out in the wild, you’re simply not ready for how enormous it is. It’s substantially wider tracked than a garden variety Ranger Wildtrak. 272 mm of ground clearance is more than standard, even factoring in its 2.3 mm steel bash plate. Ride height is increased markedly, and front wheel travel is 32% improved, ensuring a colossal wading depth of 850 mm. You can drive the Ford Ranger Raptor into the sea if you want, but with quoted departure angles of 24–27 degrees, a breakover angle of 24 degrees and approach angle is 32 degrees, best you stick to decimating earth. Cos it’s really good at it.
The Ford Performance model’s suspension set-up includes a coil-sprung Watt’s link rear suspension and FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers. You’ll spot them with their red aluminium casing peering out from underneath the suspension and they are custom high-strength items for the new Ranger Raptor. What makes very them nearly competition-spec shocks is that they offer twice the oil capacity of regular shocks, helping dissipate heat and stress, and they’ve been specially tuned for this application.
The ride on-road is sublimely comfortable with no big crash-through from the standard-fit all-terrain 17-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain tyres. Quite how Ford Performance has gone and achieved this with a truck that is so confidence inspiring to drive off road and exhilarating to drive fast on gravel is mighty impressive. There’s also precious little tyre roar from the chunky off-road rubber. Any other tyre of the sort whir-whir-whirs away driving you mad on the road, but not the Ford Ranger Raptor.
Ford has put a new permanent four-wheel-drive system into action on the Raptor. It’s gained an electronically controlled on-demand two-speed transfer case, combined with front and rear locking differentials, which means there really is no excuse if you get stuck anywhere. There’s a reason there are Baja references sprinkled liberally throughout the car. That’s because the Ford Ranger Raptor could quite comfortably complete the famous off-road race, no problem. So, switch the electronically controlled active exhaust system from Sport to Baja mode and hear the free-revving petrol V6 breath!
Beneath the oversized bonnet you’ll find a new 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol motor. Remember, the previous Raptor had the same 2.0-litre diesel from a garden variety Ranger XLT. So how does this one stack up? At first glance, favourably. 292 kW and 585 Nm is lusty enough for the 2 460 kg truck and imbues the Raptor with great performance figures. It loves to rev and is not so torquey that you don’t chase the redline with abandon.
On the test strip, we saw a reliable zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds, even though the Blue Ovals claims 6-seconds flat. However, it’s pin-sharp throttle response and its keenness to gallop out on the open road is what makes it so entertaining to drive. Forget shire horse, filly or young colt trying to get up to speed, with a petrol motor beneath its bonnet the Raptor is a proper athlete now.
There’s plenty of excitement from its throaty V6 exhaust note which, even though it’s petrol, still comes with impressive stump-pulling (2 500 kg braked tow rating) ability. Sadly, the load capacity is a bit skint at 667 kg due to the sophisticated suspension upgrades. Nevertheless, from the helm, Ford’s much-loved 10-speed automatic does a fine job to maximise response with tightly packed gear ratios meaning you’re always in the powerband. And it’s not that thirsty in between blasts.
During my time with the Ford Ranger Raptor, I thrashed, bashed and dashed across any type of terrain I could find. And let me tell you it is an absolutely fantastic machine. There’s something so freeing about knowing you’re in a vehicle that can literally drive anywhere, like you’re the hero car in a Michael Bay action sequence. Spec sheets and acceleration figures only tell part of the story of how tough and cool the Ford Ranger Raptor is to live with.
We’re not going to delve too much into the interior, because it’s based on a top-spec Ranger, which we know is so abundantly specced to begin with. In Raptor guise, however, you get lovely leather sport seats and a steering wheel with a red centre point like a racing car. The top-dog Raptor comes standard with Matrix LED headlights, a brilliant 12.4-inch digital cluster with more Raptor displays than you’ll ever look at. The firm’s popular tablet-like 12-inch touchscreen is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. There are USB-A and USB-C ports (front and rear), wireless charging, a USB port on the rearview mirror (to power an action camera, dashcam or GPS), a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and a 400-watt inverter.
Everything is automatic, from the lights to wipers to climate control. There’s adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping assist. But this is a Ford Ranger Raptor, so the fun comes from the bits that keep you off the straight and narrow. Like Baja mode. In practice you can think of it like sport mode for off-road driving. Microchips sharpen up everything and back-off the stability control so the Raptor becomes as agile as its prehistoric namesake. Go find some sand dunes, or thrash across an empty saltpan, catching air and getting up to all sorts of sideways mischief.
Ford believes its unique petrol-powered sports truck will snatch away sales from interlopers in South Africa’s ever-growing R1-million bakkie club. And I don’t doubt for a second it will develop a crazy cult following thanks to its anti-establishment attitude. I’m very fond of the Ford Ranger Raptor. It’s great at some things and surprisingly brilliant at others. It is simply amazing off-road, is a warrior in any urban setting, but more than that, it can’t help flex its muscles everywhere it goes.
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