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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Ford Ranger Raptor

The updated Ford Ranger Raptor is here to bring new levels of fun to the bakkie segment and will certainly have all off-road enthusiast’s attention. Ford is so confident in this tough truck that they decided to let hooligans the motoring media test it over some of the most intense off-roading conditions we’ve experienced to date!

We were let loose in the Salt Pans of the Kalahari where we got to put the the new Raptor through some rally driving, skid panning, and dune driving.

The media were concerned about something breaking, but Ford assured us that there’s enough capability, safety and support in this new bakkie to keep everything intact – our own body parts included. Thankfully, they were right and the bakkies are still good as new, despite having taken a beating from over 50 journalists over four days of harsh testing!

THE HOOLIGAN OF FORD’S BAKKIE RANGE

The Ford Ranger Raptor distinguishes itself from the rest of the Ranger models with a more menacing and sportier-looking exterior. Ford has completely revised the Raptor’s grille, raised the front bumper, and added an aluminium bash plate to protect the bakkie’s underbody. It’s also wider and taller, and its 850 mm wading depth means that it’s pretty much the submarine of the Ranger family. Massive BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres have been built especially for the new Raptor and have a lot to do with the Raptor’s ability to take on extreme conditions.

Inside, you’ll find all the creature comforts found in the regular Ranger. but the Raptor adds sportier touches from striking and athletic Raptor-branded sports seats to a red alignment marker on the steering-wheel to stop you from losing track of your wheels’ direction off road. Paddle shifts behind the steering wheel are also available for the first time as standard on the Raptor.

Ford Ranger Raptor

NO ORGAN TRANSPLANTS NECESSARY

But it is the suspension system on the new Ranger Raptor that really makes this bakkie stand out from the crowd. Ford’s engineers put a lot of focus on developing a unique high-strength steel chassis with bespoke suspension and race-developed FOX shock absorbers that make even the largest of bumps at high speeds practically unnoticeable off road. It is also thanks to this that our kidneys were still intact after we had the opportunity to drive as a passenger with Ford’s own rally driver, Gareth Woolridge!

FUN MODE

You’ll find various driving modes to choose from in the Raptor, but its BAJA Mode – the ‘Sport Mode’ of off-road driving – is where the fun starts. It’s inspired by Mexico’s famous Baja Desert Rally, and offers ultra-responsive and spirited off-roading fun. There are also various terrain selections to choose from including Normal, Sport, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand and Rock. The Raptor’s 2.0-litre bi-turbocharged diesel engine (which you might recall from the new regular Ranger), offers 157 kW of power, 500 Nm of torque and is linked to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Despite the Raptor being so incredibly capable off-road, it still offers huge amounts of refinement and comfort in regular driving environments. In Normal Mode and out on the highway, the Raptor easily transforms itself into an everyday leisure bakkie – but its intentions are still clear and the fact that it can quickly turn into a mighty beast of a bakkie on demand is evident.

So it is clear that the Raptor is like no ordinary Ranger, and although buyers might not necessarily take on any rally driving or off-road skidpans, just knowing what this tough truck is capable of will give any of its drivers and owners instant street-cred.

Ford Ranger Raptor

FORD RANGER RAPTOR PRICING

The new Ranger Raptor 2.0 BiT 10AT 4×4 is priced at R786 400 and comes with a four-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, a three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and a five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000 km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

WORDS BY: CAIRA-LEE DURAND

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