Ford decided to launch their top of the range Ford Ranger Raptor in Upington which nestles on the banks of the Orange river, the greatest river in RSA. From Upington we headed North along one of the straightest roads in the country with a 250 km/h speed limit, used by several manufacturers as a test bed - with special permission of course! After about 100 km we arrived at the test site comprising of a huge salt pan surrounded by rolling sand dunes. A familiar site to me having competed in the Spirit of Africa event in August 2007 and organised by the legendary Sarel van der Merwe!
The Ford Ranger Raptor, which is the subject of this report, will be the flagship of the Ranger range. Only one model of the Raptor will be available as it is a very special double cab bakkie for the world market. It differs from the normal Ranger Dbl cab in quite a few aspects.
Setting a new benchmark in off-road pickup capability, the Ranger Raptor has been designed to combine Ford Performance DNA with Ranger's renowned toughness and engineering expertise. Ranger Raptor 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 ensure extreme off-road capability and stability. 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.
The all-new 2 Litre 4-cylinder twin turbo diesel engine is at the heart of this Ranger, with its awesome power delivered in a well muffled roar that sounds more like a petrol fuelled engine. The cabin is extremely quiet and provides a host of choices for the driver to really enjoy this very special vehicle, which will conquer any obstruction off-road whilst providing an exceedingly comfortable high speed ride. Inside the cabin is tailored similarly to a high-specification luxury sedan with plenty of space and innovation.
Raptor provides their Terrain Management System (TMS) with a choice of 6 modes to suit the type of road surface, coupled to a fantastic 10 speed automatic gearbox that swops cogs imperceptibly, and has flappy paddles behind the steering wheel allowing manual gearchanges. This is one of the main contributions to lowering fuel consumption along with improved acceleration.
The test route after the long straight tar road deviated into the soft sand of the prevailing dunes which then highlighted the extreme capabilities of this “Go Anywhere” machine. No matter how soft or undulating, the Raptor strolled across the dunes without any fuss aided by the high torque powertrain and high ground clearance shod with BF Goodrich R17 tyres.
A host of driver aids include Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS), Front End Accessory Drive (FEAD), Seats especially designed for high performance support along with supreme comfort. This may be a Bakkie, but it much more resembles an executive class performance saloon, providing all the necessary bells & whistles for the occupants in the cockpit. Very few vehicles have been tested so extensively. The relatively small power plant has twin Turbo boosting which is guaranteed to be utterly reliable with the latest technology
VERDICT: Competing Manufacturers will encounter huge problems competing with this vehicle, which allows you to push the envelope off-road and still ride like a millionaire on-road! This is without doubt the best Bakkie introduced to the market and is proudly South African! Get on down to your Ford Dealer and drive this incredible vehicle.
LIKES: Versatility, comfort and performance.
DISLIKES: High price although still very competitive.
SPECIFICATION: 2.0 Diesel Double Cab
Retail Price: R786,400
Power train: 4 cyl Diesel
Engine cm3 2000
Max: Power kW 157
Max. Torque Nm 500
Fuel Tank Capacity, Litres. 80
Price includes a 4 year 120,000 km warranty and a 6 year 90,000 km Service plan.