For Ford, the Raptor brief was simple: fit heavy-duty shock absorbers, widen the tracks, wrap its alloys in super-grippy knobbly tyres and turn up the grunt. The result? A properly powerful and capable off-road hooligan. Here’s everything you need to know about the Raptor...
1. Looks to thrill
It’s by no means just a pretty face. In fact, it’s quite the antithesis with a bold and expressive grille replete with Ford wordmark logo bestowing it with an undeniable and imposing Raptor facade. Other notable visual touches include the blistered fenders that have been shaped to accommodate the long-travel suspension and off-road tyres. This thing means business.
2. Race-honed cabin
Climb inside and the sculpted sports seats echo the rugged raciness of the exterior quite superbly, as does the blue stitching and aggressively styled instrument cluster. Take a closer look and you’ll notice the steering wheel comes laden with lightweight magnesium paddle shifters, a red-stitched on-centre mark and a Raptor logo. It’s all very feral and with good reason...
3. It’s not about the engine
To quote Jamal Hameedi of Ford performance: "If you think a Raptor is about performance figures, then you don’t know what a Raptor is." See, the ethos behind the Raptor goes a whole lot deeper than the performance figures petrolheads often obsess over.
Peel away its skin and the Raptor’s unique underpinnings point towards a uniquely developed frame that’s been modified for the high speeds and rigorous demands of off-road driving – 283mm of ground clearance (that’s 16% more than the current Ranger) and a wider front and rear track (150mm). Despite the social media fracas around its engine configuration, the 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel mill is a pretty remarkable unit.
Its Jekyll and Hyde-type personality means the Raptor is able to deliver a combination of gut-wrenching performance mixed with superlative fuel efficiency that will accommodate all driving styles.
4. It runs Fox shocks, like a mountain bike
Well, sort of. While Fox is better known for making suspension systems for mountain bikes, the suspension wizards have done extensive work in vehicles before - namely in Baja- and truck racing in the United States. The Raptor’s shocks were naturally developed for racing and feature long travel and an internal bypass system that makes landing jumps less intrusive. The real kicker, however, is the Raptor’s ability in terms of everyday on-road comfort and cornering - it can be used as your daily drive to work.
5. Technically it’s got 20 gears!
The Raptor utilises an American-built 10-speed automatic transmission (identical to the F150), which enables a wider span of gears for better acceleration and responsiveness - 10 gears in high range and 10 gears in low range. It has been thoroughly tested in the harshest conditions, having to survive millions of testing kilometres of abuse in the dunes. Worried that the extra grunt will prompt you to drive it more enthusiastically than usual? Well, the real-time adaptive shift-scheduling indicator has been engineered to optimise gear selection and foster better fuel economy.
6. There’s a special Baja mode
Further enhancing its off-road bent is the Terrain Management System (TMS) which includes something Ford calls ‘Baja mode’ – inspired by Mexico’s famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode a lenient Traction Control system together with the Fox-developed Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers, allows you to experience its broad depths of talent with less interference from the on-board nanny.
7. It will be built in SA, but not soon
Ford South Africa spent around R3-billion last year upgrading its plant in Silverton so it can produce Ranger Raptors for our local market. Pegged to launch in the first quarter of 2019, the Raptor looks tailor made to be a huge hit here in South Africa, where it will add a dollop of variety to a market that has traditionally been ruled by Toyota and its ubiquitous Hilux. In terms of pricing nothing has been confirmed yet, but considering the amount of extra R&D that’s gone into the Raptor, we expect a price point of around R750k.