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The rally-bred Ford Ranger Raptor has always offered plenty of attitude and off-road agility, but was somewhat lacking in real muscle.
The blue oval has fixed that by giving the all-new Raptor a major power boost to go with its exceptional off-road ability.
At its global reveal on Monday, the second-generation Raptor was introduced with a potent new 3.0l V6 twin turbo EcoBoost engine tuned by Ford’s Performance division, as before channelled through a 10-speed automatic transmission. With 292kW it has nearly double the power of the current Raptor’s 157kW 2.0l bi turbo diesel engine, while torque climbs from 500Nm to 583Nm.
In 2018 the Raptor created a new performance niche for performance pickups, with no direct rivals, and the benchmark has been raised even higher, says Justin Capicchiano, Raptor programme supervisor at Ford.
Ford hasn’t quoted a 0-100km/h figure but claims the Raptor V6 is “hot-hatch fast”, and says the vehicle is a full minute faster around a 10km test track than the diesel version.
It is able to deliver its thrust instantly through an anti-lag system. Available in the high-performance Baja mode, it keeps the turbochargers spinning for up to three seconds after the driver backs off the throttle, allowing for faster resumption of acceleration out of corners or between gears when the driver thrusts the accelerator again.
An active exhaust system manages the purposeful exhaust note, with valves that open or close in various amounts depending on drive mode. The sound can be turned down so that Raptor drivers can be good neighbours.
When it goes on sale next year it will continue to be offered as a diesel in selected markets, with the V6 as a halo model. Ford hasn’t confirmed the model line-up for SA but the V6 will almost certainly be in the mix for our performance-hungry market.
While the rest of the new-generation Ranger will be built locally at Ford’s Silverton plant near Pretoria, the Raptor will be imported from Thailand.
To go with the power hike, the new Ford Raptor has completely redesigned suspension, along with steering and braking updates.
The long travel front and rear suspension and refined Watt’s link rear end have been designed to deliver more control across rough terrain at high speed. The rally-bred Fox shock absorbers have a new Live Valve adaptive damping system that delivers the best of both worlds in real time, which means no trade off between ride quality and performance, says Ford.
The damper electronically adjusts from soft to hard. It now feels firmer on road making it a better high-speed performance vehicle, without losing any ability to soak up bumps and ruts.
Helping to prevent bottom outs on bumpy terrain, the Fox suspension provides maximum damping force in the last 25% of shock travel. The system also stiffens the rear dampers to prevent the vehicle from squatting under hard acceleration.
The Raptor’s ability to tackle rough terrain is further enhanced with some serious underbody protection, with a front bash plate made of 2.3mm thick high-strength steel that is almost double the size of the standard Ranger bash plate.
The four-wheel drive system has been improved with a new electronically controlled on-demand two-speed transfer case, combined with front and rear locking differentials.
There are seven selectable drive modes, including the off-road oriented Baja mode for high-speed off-roading. A Trail Control system allows the driver to select a set speed less than 32km/h, and the vehicle manages acceleration and braking while the driver concentrates on steering through difficult terrain.
The new Ranger Raptor continues to look like a schoolyard bully. As before it rides on aggressive high-volume 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres and has flared wheel arches for a planted look.
Also carried over is the assertive black front grille with giant Ford lettering, flanked by the C-clamp headlights that characterise all new-generation Rangers. The Matrix LED headlights with LED daytime running lights have a dynamic bending function and dynamic levelling to prevent blinding oncoming traffic.
Inside, occupants sit in new jet fighter-inspired sports seats — both in the front and rear — that offer more comfort and are also more supportive during high-speed cornering.
Code Orange accents on the instrument panel, trim and seats are enhanced by ambient amber lighting, and the leather sports steering wheel has magnesium shift paddles.
The fully digital cabin has a high resolution 12.4-inch digital instrument panel and 12-inch centre touchscreen with a new Sync 4Av infotainment system, with Bang & Olufsen providing the soundtrack.
Order books for next-generation Ranger Raptor will open in the third quarter of 2022, with local launch timing and deliveries to be confirmed.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.