The Raptor's cylinder count might double – as the T6-series Ranger starts maturing in its production lifecycle, Ford is reportedly working on a project to bring even more performance to its headlining bakkie derivative.
Since its launch, the Ranger Raptor has set new standards for off-road ride quality and terrain-taming ability. The only point of contention has been its engine, which is a modern, but workmanlike, 4-cylinder turbodiesel.
Although the Raptor’s 2.0-litre bi-turbo powerplant is entirely adequate for technical terrain driving (in low-range), it is not the quickest bakkie in its class. On the open road and in terms of overtaking acceleration, there are swifter rivals...
To address this issue and bring the Ranger Raptor closer to its antecedent American Raptor cousins, Ford is working on a petrol-powered solution, at least if reports from Australia are to be believed.
The Ranger’s engine bay is certainly large enough to accommodate a more powerful petrol engine. And Ford has an excellent candidate engine in the guise of its 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8, which has proved itself in the Mustang. This engine also uses the same 10-speed automatic transmission as utilised in the Ranger Raptor.
A potential problem is the cost of development and creating the capacity to produce such a vehicle. Any Ford Ranger Raptor V8 would be an extremely niche vehicle – because of its low projected sales numbers, and the complicated engineering required to fit a V8 petrol engine in a body that was never designed to utilise it, the business case for Ford to produce such a derivative on its normal Ranger production line looks marginal.
If Ford Australia does execute the Ranger Raptor V8 project, the chances are that the production of the derivative would be contracted to a specialist assembly company. This would be similar to other unique Ford high-performance products that have been introduced in the Australian market, such as the Mustang R-Spec.
How would a possible Range Raptor V8 for the Australian market affect South African Ford bakkie fans? There are aftermarket V8 engine conversions available to local Ford Ranger customers, although they are not specifically geared to the Raptor-specification bakkie.
Considering the enormous increase in performance that a Mustang V8 engine would bring to the Ranger Raptor bakkie, and the potential warranty issues that may arise from even more punishing, much higher-speed off-road use, the rumoured Ford engine swap would probably be contained to the Australian market. And at a very premium price, too.