Ford has unveiled the latest version of its performance-enhanced Ranger Raptor pick-up, the first variant of the new Ranger to be revealed and the first to go on sale in the UK.
The second-generation Ranger is both the toughest and most advanced model yet, according to Ford, and the new Raptor has received both a power boost and some significant under-the-skin upgrades compared to the outgoing version.
Head-on, the Ranger Raptor looks particularly imposing with big Ford lettering emblazoned across the grille, framed by C-shaped LED matrix headlights and LED daytime running lights.
Otherwise though, the styling isn’t especially out-there with a mostly standard-looking pick-up body sitting atop a set of 17in alloy wheels. The rear bumper features an integrated step and towbar positioned so as not to interfere with departure angles during off-road excursions.
Inside, the screens are big and abundant, with a 12.4in digital instrument cluster ahead of the driver and a 12in portrait-aspect touchscreen centrally mounted on the dash and running the latest version of Ford’s Sync4 infotainment system. Optional is a ten-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo.
The Raptor’s sportier character is highlighted by a few little touches throughout the cabin such as the leather sports seats, magnesium paddle gear shifters and a sports steering wheel with a red on-centre marker.
New V6 petrol engine
One of the criticisms of the outgoing UK Raptor was that, despite trick rally-raid suspension it only came with a diesel engine. Ford has answered that by dropping a 284bhp 3-litre twin-turbo Volkswagen V6 petrol onto the new model from launch.
It arrives in the Ranger as part of a platform-sharing agreement between Ford and Volkswagen, which has seen them not only jointly develop the new Ford Ranger and VW Amarok pick-ups, but other vehicles such as the new VW Caddy and Ford Tourneo Connect vans,.
A new anti-lag system keeps the turbocharger of the V6 spinning for up to three seconds after the driver lifts off the throttle to allow faster acceleration coming out of corners or when the ten-speed automatic transmission is moving up through the gears.
While the Ranger Raptor gets the 3-litre V6, the Amarok gets Ford’s 2-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, with single or twin turbochargers, the latter of which will also make it into a version of the Raptor to be released in 2023.
Meanwhile, the sound of the engines can be adjusted via a button on the steering wheel, depending on how much drivers want to annoy or thrill those around them.
Quiet mode is for when owners want to keep the peace with their neighbours; Normal is for everyday use and provides just enough noise to make the Raptor’s presence felt; Sport is louder still, while Baja mode is the loudest, making the exhaust almost act like a straight-through system. It is only intended for off-road use so as to avoid frightening children and domestic pets, and otherwise causing a general nuisance.
Seven drive modes
Along with locking front and rear differentials, the Raptor gets seven adjustable drive modes to help owners more easily find the balance between everyday driveability and weekend field-crossing fun.
Each mode adjusts a number of elements from engine and transmission to anti-lock brakes sensitivity and calibration, traction and stability controls, steering and throttle response.
Normal mode is designed for everyday, on-road driving, balancing comfort and efficiency; Sport is for more spirited driving; Slippery is for when surfaces are a little trickier such as in heavy rain or icy conditions. We found the Raptor is the most accomplished of all Rangers for on-road comfort and stability, with handling more akin to a sporty car than a pick-up.
As for the off-road modes, Rock Crawl allows for the greatest level of control at low speeds over rocky and extremely uneven surfaces; Sand is for tackling beaches, deserts and heavy snow; Mud/Ruts is for maximum grip during launch and getting drivers out of a hole; Baja, named after the especially tough Baja 1000 off-road race in Mexico, is for maximum-attack high-speed off-roading.
This is where the rally-raid suspension comes into its own, and the previous Ranger Raptor was unbelievably adept at traversing tricky terrain at breakneck speed.
There’s another potentially useful setting, too, called Trail Control, which Ford describes as like cruise control for off-roading whereby the driver can set a speed below 20mph and let the vehicle manage all the acceleration and braking, leaving the driver to look after the steering.
In addition to more power and noise than before, the outgoing Raptor’s already excellent suspension has been thoroughly beefed up for high-speed off-roading.
The suspension mounts have been strengthened and new long-travel suspension has been fitted, enabling the Raptor to tackle challenging ground at high speeds, with Fox Live Valve internal-bypass shock absorbers (given a light reworking by Ford Performance), which respond to adjustments to the ride quality as per the driving modes.
In all cases, maximum damping is provided in the bottom 25% of damper travel to reduce the impact of bottoming-out over sudden crests.
There’s also reinforcement around the C-pillar and spare wheel, and thicker 2.3mm steel bash plates, along with shielding to protect the engine and gearbox over the rough stuff.
“The suspension upgrades in the Ranger Raptor make the most of the new Fox Live Valve dampers,” according to Dave Burn, Ford Performance’s chief programme engineer behind the Ranger Raptor.
“The suspension adapts in real-time to enable exceptional on-road body control while absorbing corrugations and bigger ruts off-road with ease, ensuring maximum control and performance.”
On sale date and deliveries
The new Ranger Raptor is scheduled to begin deliveries in the UK towards the end of the summer with the standard Ranger expected towards the end of the year. Pricing and exact on-sale dates, however, has yet to be announced.
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