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Ford’s new Ranger Raptor: 5 fierce local bakkie rivals

2018-02-09 08:10

Lance Branquinho

Image: Supplied

Johannesburg - One of the most important bakkie stories in South African history this week - the official reveal of Ford’s Range Raptor. 

Due to be built in the greater Tshwane area, at Ford’s Silverton facility, the Ranger Raptor is a dedicated 2/3rds clone of its renowned American F-150 cousin. It’s not merely a warmed-over Ranger, this Raptor is a very specialised piece of kit, with components which differentiate it quite a bit from other Rangers. 

Sports Fox racing dampers

At 283mm it has a good deal more ground clearance than other Rangers and not only is it going to clear more challenging off-road obstacles because of that, it’s going to be faster everywhere when you turn off the tarmac.

Behind each of those four wheels, are custom-build Fox racing dampers with coilovers. 

It’s the calibre of stuff the automaker uses at the Dakar and for Baja desert racing in the US and what those Fox suspension components do, are keep all four wheels in contact with the terrain you are trying to race over, no matter how bumpy it gets, or how fast you are going. 

Beyond the Fox suspension wizardry, Ranger Raptor doesn’t have a conventional live-axle at the rear, like all other Rangers. It uses a Watts-link instead, similar to what you find at the back of an Everest SUV, to ensure that even unladen, this bakkie’s rear remains planted. 

Image: Quickpic

With the quality of components and amount of engineering detail Ford’s applied to its Ranger Raptor project, there’s no doubt that in the dunes of Namibia, or red sand tracks of the Northern Cape, this bakkie is going to roll-over challenging terrain with greater ease and speed than any other production double-cab in SA. 

Rangers owners will have a bakkie which is essentially the Porsche GT3 RS of double-cabs. Fox racing shocks are pedigree motorsport items and they’ll absolutely revolutionise the ride-quality and speed at which drivers can tackle punishing off-road terrain, without fatiguing themselves or damaging their bakkies. 

Underwhelming performance figures... on paper

The one issue is its engine. Ford fans mercilessly mocked Amarok owners for years about their double-cabs being powered by a mere 2-litre diesel engine. The irony is, that Range Raptor has now become exactly that too: a 2-litre biturbo-diesel. It doesn’t produce much more power than a Ranger 3.2 (only 10 additional kilowatts) or much more torque (30 more Newtons). 

If you are one of those people who absolutely lives by specific power outputs, and ignore handling and braking dynamics, Ranger Raptor’s 157kW and 500Nm are an underwhelming detail to its claim of being the ultimate performance double-cab bakkie. In the US there’s a very potent 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6 already in service with Ford’s F-150 bakkie and it makes 242kW. Kind of a no-brainer what Ford should have done – or is supposedly going to do in good time… 

For now, in terrain that isn’t deep sand, Ford’s most keenly anticipated bakkie will have five very capable rivals to deal with. We list them. 

Toyota Hilux 4.0 V6
Ford’s fiercest rival for dominance over the South African double-cab market, Toyota is also the only manufacturer which still offers customers the option of petrol power for its double-cab bakkies. This petrol-powered oddity is perhaps Hilux’s most unique selling point and paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox, its 4-litre V6 spins out 175kW and 376Nm. The Hilux wins if you are counting power but has a large deficit to Ranger Raptor’s torque. 

Image: Quickpic

VW Amarok V6
The bakkie which avenged all those 2-litre jokes VW double-cab owners suffered. Powered by a detuned 3-litre Audi V6 diesel, specifically adapted for running in hot and dusty conditions, Amarok V6 has the measure of Ranger Raptor on paper. Its V6 produces 180kW and 550Nm on overboost and with a slick 8-speed ZF gearbox, those outputs are converted to linear acceleration quite convincingly. 

Image: Supplied 

Mercedes X-Class 350d
Due for its official debut at the Geneva auto show in less than a month, this is the real Mercedes double-cab bakkie. Unlike the four-cylinder models, X350d has a proper Mercedes engine, the proven 3-litre V6 turbodiesel, which bests Ranger Raptor’s peak torque by 50Nm (with 550Nm) and it is going to be the most powerful diesel bakkie on sale in South Africa too. How powerful? Well, with 190kW, you won’t be overtaken any rival double-cab on the N1. 

Image: Supplied

Toyota Land-Cruiser 79-Series 4.0 V6

Perhaps the only bakkie which could compete with Ranger Raptor’s hugely focussed off-road ability is Toyota’s adventuring dinosaur. Although the design has altered little from the 1980s (hence its unbreakable nature), the Land Cruiser double-cab does come with a very modern 4-litre V6 engine option. It’s a very lively petrol engine and at 170kW, notably more powerful than Ranger Raptor. That said, at 360Nm, it’s 140 Newtons worth of pulling power down on the Ford. And you must shift gears yourself with this one, depressing a clutch which feels more akin to a brake pedal. 

Image: Supplied

Mercedes-Benz Unimog 
Admittedly we are being flippant by including this but it is the grandest of all double-cabs you can buy in South Africa. The absolute last word in durability and off-road ability, Unimog is a legend established by lives saved and mountain roads built.

It’s also powered by a 4.8-litre in-line six turbodiesel, which just managed to be more powerful than Ranger, by a mere 3kW, with a peak output of 160kW. Torque reserves are enormous, tough, at 810Nm. But fast it most certainly is not, being effectively the weight of two and a half Ranger Raptors. 

Image: Supplied

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