Could a meaner-looking special version of the Ranger Raptor – the flagship of Ford's popular bakkie range – be on the cards for the South African market? Judging by the Ranger Raptor X, which will be released in the Australian market in the near future, it cannot be ruled out!
The current Ranger (T6) has been on the local market for about a decade and camouflaged pre-production units of its F150-inspired successor have already been spotted; this leads us to believe the showroom version of the newcomer is likely to be revealed within the next 12 months. Local production of the new model will probably commence at some point during 2022.
So, as the current-gen Ranger nears the end of its product lifecycle, Ford has looked to capitalise on strong demand for uniquely-styled and kitted-out leisure double-cabs.
The barrage of special Rangers from Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) began with the Ranger Thunder (based on the Ranger Wildtrak) and then, towards the end of last year, the firm followed it up with the Ranger XL Sport (based on the Ranger XL), which catered for the high- and low ends of the Ranger’s customer base respectively.
Until now, the headline-grabbing (and frankly, limelight-hogging) Ranger Raptor derivative has not received a sprinkling of special Ford fairy dust, but that may soon change. From July, Ford Australia will be offering the Ranger Raptor X and it looks the business, replete with Over The Top (OTT, yes, that is what the Blue Oval calls them) stripes that stretch across the bakkie's bonnet, roof and tailgate; those racy accoutrements are complemented by side stripes on the doors and side of the load bed. We can't imagine FMCSA isn't planning something similar for Mzansi!
What’s more, Ford Australia has applied a matte-black finish to the flagship bakkie’s expansive grille, door handles, rear bumper cover, tailgate handle, fender vents and foglamp bezels, all of which are complemented by the similarly-coloured extended leg sports bar on the load bed.
The Ranger Raptor X's 17-inch wheels, which are shod with specially developed BF Goodrich All-Terrain 285/70 R17 KO2 tyres, have been refreshed with an Asphalt Black matte finish.
Inside, a new accent package, which takes its cue from the bold exterior decals, has been applied to Ranger Raptor’s Ford Performance interior. It incorporates extensive contrast stitching (in red, as opposed to the current version’s blue stitching), while eye-catching Hydrographic and Black Alley accents feature across the dashboard and door cards.
Mechanically, the Ranger Raptor X remains unchanged. It is still powered by a 157 kW/500 Nm 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo 4-cylinder engine mated with a fast-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission in conjunction with steering-wheel-mounted lightweight magnesium paddles.
The derivative’s legendary high-speed off-road capability is, to recap, underpinned by Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers manufactured by FOX, a robust Watt’s linkage rear suspension, a beefed-up braking system (with ventilated 332 mm discs with twin-piston callipers at the front) and a model-specific Terrain Management System, including Baja mode (inspired by the famous desert rally).
As Ford Australia doesn’t source its Ranger bakkies from FMCSA’s Silverton plant (but from a plant in Thailand), a hotter-looking (and probably swansong) version of the South African-spec Ranger Raptor is not likely to be identical to the version shown here, but the Blue Oval’s local accessories division is undoubtedly capable of producing racier detailing for the range's flagship derivative all on its own!
Should FMCSA confirm a special version of the Ranger Raptor in the coming weeks and months, we'll be sure to let you know all about it!