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Ford's new Ranger Raptor: Performance bakkie to be built in SA

2018-02-11 19:00

Janine Van der Post

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post

Thailand - Ford has unveiled its first performance-tuned Ranger Raptor at a world debut in Bangkok. 

The automaker made its global debut of the first Ranger Raptor bakkie at a world-class event on Wednesday (February 7).

More exciting is the fact that this bakkie will also be built locally at the automaker's Silverton factory in Pretoria.  

While the Ranger Raptor has been hugely-anticipated, and is most certainly a striking bakkie, South African motorists could be puzzled by the fact that it's is only available with a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel.

However, the automaker is convinced the smaller engine is the best option for its new bakkie.

'No replacement for displacement'

Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi told Wheels24 that the Raptor is not about power, it's about the chassis and the suspension. Hameedi says: "Customers won't be disappointed when they drive this. It's lighter, more powerful and has more torque. It takes a page from the Ford GT that has a little V6 twin-turbo engine that's doing the work and is a more efficient engine.

"There's so much technology now that there's no replacement for displacement."

Watch the two videos below as Hameedi explains why the Ranger Raptor has a 2.0-litre engine instead of the 3.2-litre unit:

But with all that said, this bakkie will still sell like hotcakes and might just be the recipe the oval-branded automaker needs to dethrone the Hilux as the best-selling vehicle in its segment - even though it does not compete directly when you line up the specs.

Ford announced in September 2017 that its hugely popular Ranger bakkie will be available in an off-road performance variant for the first time. 

The purpose-built, desert-racing inspired bakkie joins the Ford Performance family, as the new ‘Ranger Raptor’, says the automaker. 

Ford SA says: "The Ranger Raptor will be coming to South Africa, with further information to be revealed in due course. There is no estimated time of arrival as yet.

"Designed and engineered to deliver an adrenaline pumping experience, Ford Ranger Raptor sports a head-turning exterior look that exudes toughness as well as a level of capability and off-road performance never before seen in the mid-size bakkie segment. 

"Sharing the same nomenclature as the F-150 Raptor, the world’s most extreme production bakkie, Ranger Raptor is in a class of its own among mid-size off-road performance vehicles." 

#RangerRaptor - What do you think of the new Ford Ranger Raptor headed for SA? Email us

So what makes the Ranger Raptor distinctive? 

In terms of styling, the Raptor features a new, huge grille, bumper, bold wheel arches and fenders with grey accents. Ford says there are new sheet molding compound (SMC) front fenders which wrap around the 150mm wider stance from the track. It sports 2.3mm thick high-strength steel for underbody protection.  

At the rear there's a unique box side, redesigned bumper and tow-bar integration along with a functional aluminium die-cast side step.

Inside, there are beautiful sculpted eats, upholstery and signature blue stitches in lightning blue. Ford reckons its cabin has been designed for comfort and confidence with the Ford Performance DNA running throughout its styling.

The steering wheel has a red stripe on top of the wheel as a centre marker. It also has unique spokes, debossed graphic and magnesium paddle shifters.

Driving modes

The other aspect of the Raptor's speciality is its Terrain Management System (TMS) which has six various modes to choose from to suite any kind of driving surface, including one called Baja mode. Despite the Baja Dessert Race being highly acclaimed internationally, we reckon this could have been better suited as the Dakar mode for local buyers. But then again, that would be stepping on Toyota's toes with its Hilux.

Ford reckons: "Each mode has been precisely calibrated to offer the best possible combination of technologies working in unison to tackle the chosen driving style with sangfroid."

 Each mode can be selected via a dedicated five-button switch located on the steering wheel. 

On-road modes
1 Normal mode: Emphasising comfort, fuel economy and driveability
2 Sport mode: Responsive for spirited on-road driving. This means fast, crisp gear shifts at higher engine speeds to aid throttle response. The mapping reacts to increased demand inputs from the driver by holding gears longer and downshifting more aggressively.

Off-road modes
3 Grass/Gravel/Snow mode: Designed to inspire safe and confident driving on off-road slippery and uneven surfaces. This is done through smoother gear shifts and second-gear starts, minimizing the probability of wheel slip. 
4 Mud/Sand mode: Vehicle responsiveness is tuned for optimum traction and momentum in deep, deformable surfaces like loose sand and mud. This is achieved by maintaining lower gears with high torque. 
5 Rock mode: Used specifically for low-speed rocky terrain where smooth controllability is key. 
6 Baja mode: Vehicle responsiveness is tuned for high-speed off-road performance, just like drivers need in the famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back in terms of intervention to allow spirited off-road driving without fighting the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimized for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.

2.0-litre engine

The choice of engine is questionable and many could be disappointed, considering the US has tuned the 3.2-litre engine with a V6 option for its market in its F150s.

The question remains: Why could we not get a more powerful offering for South Africa, or other leading countries such as Australia or Thailand, where the Ranger is the best-selling bakkie in their markets.

It's clear to see though that Ford SA really has no option with the mothership but perhaps, when the time comes, and demand is strong enough, the automaker might have to reconsider bringing in another variant for its customers.

Perhaps it would have been even more forgiving if we were to have received the 2.2-litre auto unit which is largely popular here at home and is the best-selling engine in SA for the automaker. 

Ford engineers at the event were adamament and insisted that the 2.0-litre engine is the way to go with its new technology. For now, we'll have to wait and give Ford the benefit of doubt.

The powertrain

So back to the 157kW/500Nm with the 10-speed transmission.

Ford says: "The combination of high-efficiency sump filtration and ultra-low viscosity automatic transmission fluid means less wear and contamination, better durability and better efficiency."

The Raptor's Bi-Turbo technology optimizes torque and power thoughout the rev range with additional boost required during high engine speed, says the automaker.

The turbo housing has been been upgraded to a high-grade alloy to ensure durability up to 860 degrees Celcius exhaust temperature while the compressor cover is water cooled.s

Ford also claims the roller one-way clutch (OWC) will deliver a smooth responsive drive under conditions that rivals other transmissions.

Even the integrated intake manifold has been upgraded to allow for a more efficient feed of air into the engine. The engine cover is specially designed with noise absorbing foam to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).    

The suspension includes standard front and rear Fox Racing Shox shock absorbers to help travel at high speeds off-road and includes increased ride height, wider track and improved approach and departure angles that ensure extreme off-road capability and stability. 

There's also an innovative all-new Watt’s linkage rear suspension with coilover rear springs helps ensure rear axle lateral stability off-road while also improving ride and handling.  

Disclaimer: Wheels24's Janine Van der Post was hosted by Ford South Africa for this event


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