Ford recently introduced the first ever performance bakkie with long-travel suspension and Fox racing dampers. GQ motoring ed Dieter Losskarn flew to Upington to enjoy the fast and furious Raptor on a flat, dusty Kalahari clay pan.
The Ford Ranger is one of the best-selling bakkies in the world. With more than 51 000 vehicles sold, it is the market leader in Europe. So it was time to build an even tougherer version of it, the eagerly awaited Ford Ranger Raptor.
First thing you notice when you approach this performance pick-up is the much bolder stance with tons of street cred and presence. The Raptor features new bumpers, aluminium running boards and a mighty grille with self-confidently large FORD letters.
Compared to a standard Ranger the Raptor is 16.8cm wider, 5.2cm higher and 4.4cm longer, thus gaining more ground clearance, lifting it 28cm off the ground. Departure and approach angle improved as well. The chassis is based on the Everest/Ranger, but significantly stronger. And the Raptor is proudly produced in South Africa. Ford has invested almost R3-billion in its Silverton plant to meet the worldwide demand.
And they chose the most appropriate location to showcase their top-of-the-range high-speed off-roader. A flat clay pan outside Upington, flanked by some red Kalahari sand dunes. An ideal playground for big boys and girls. With three different activities: drifting, high-speed rallying and dune driving. And contrary to other new car launches the instructors encouraged journalists to really push the car.
I must admit I have driven numerous bakkies from different manufacturers. None of them would have survived the relentless punishment those Raptors endured during the launch week. From long jumps, high-speed gravel racing to wild drifting.
The Raptor’s Terrain Management System (TMS) allows you to choose from six different driving modes (Normal, Sport, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock and Baja) initiated electronically in the dash. I personally enjoyed the exciting new Baja one the most. Named after the famous Mexican desert race. Shock absorber guru Fox gained a lot of experience during this Baja California event. And the Raptor benefits big time. Baja mode is sharpening steering, transmission and throttle response, while reducing stability- and traction control. Allowing spirited off-road fun, especially those controlled drifts at higher speeds.
PSD are the magic suspension letters: position sensitive damping. Offering toughness off-road, while being rather comfortable on tar. And the specifically designed all-terrain, chunky 285/70 17inch tyres from BF Goodrich play another big role. They deliver the necessary grip.
The Raptor feels like a modified Ken Block ride. It’s hard to believe that it leaves showroom floors just like this. At first glance a 4cyl. might seem a bit under-powered, but the twin-turbo diesel delivers lag-free acceleration and enough power on- and off-road. A Mustang’s V8 would obviously have been to front-heavy to jump.
This Power Ranger might tempt even hardcore Hilux enthusiasts. It will definitely scare the hell out their rides.
Ford Ranger Raptor
Engine 2.0-l. 4 cyl. Twin-turbo diesel, paired with a 10-speed auto box
Power 157kW & 500Nm
Top Speed 170 km/h
0-100km/h 10.5 seconds
Price R786 400