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FORD Aus­tralia has con­firmed the worstkept se­cret in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try: that it is work­ing on a souped-up Rap­tor vari­ant of its pop­u­lar Ranger ute. Count­less spy pho­tos have been seen of Ranger Rap­tor pro­to­types dur­ing test­ing, both in Aus­tralia and the USA, where the Ranger will go on sale as a 2019 model. The cam­ou­flaged test mules re­veal pumped front ’guards cov­er­ing a wider wheel track than that found un­der the cur­rent PXII Ranger.

Ford AU’S press re­lease de­scribes the ve­hi­cle as be­ing “de­signed and en­gi­neered to de­liver an adrenalinepump­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Ford Ranger Rap­tor sports a head­turn­ing ex­te­rior look that ex­udes tough­ness, as well as a level of ca­pa­bil­ity and off-road per­for­mance never be­fore seen in the mid-size pickup truck seg­ment.”

The Rap­tor name­plate car­ries over from the Ford F150 Rap­tor in the USA. That Baja racer-in­spired ve­hi­cle is pow­ered by a stonk­ing 335kw, twin-tur­bocharged Ecoboost V6 petrol en­gine backed by a 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Sus­pen­sion is pro­vided by three-inch Fox Rac­ing by-pass shocks with matched coil springs on a wider track than the standard F-truck.

No de­tails are avail­able on what the Ranger Rap­tor might bring here but we doubt we’ll see the petrol en­gine in Aus­tralia, in­stead re­ly­ing on a ‘tuned’ ver­sion of Ford’s diesel en­gine. The spy pho­tos re­veal the wider track and big tyres on the pro­to­types so we’re hop­ing that Ford con­tin­ues its part­ner­ship with Fox for the sus­pen­sion com­po­nents.

“Com­bin­ing the Rap­tor’s ad­vanced off-road ca­pa­bil­i­ties with the ver­sa­til­ity of the Ranger is a sig­nif­i­cant ac­com­plish­ment for Ford’s world-class en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign teams,” said Ja­mal Hameedi, chief en­gi­neer, Ford Per­for­mance.

This sug­gests that the Rap­tor might fall un­der the Ford Per­for­mance ban­ner here as well.

The Ford Ranger will be re­launched in the USA next year as a 2019 model and spy pho­tos sug­gest that this will be an up­dated model to the PXII cur­rently on sale here. We’re tip­ping Aus­tralia will also get the up­dated style and fea­tures of the Us-model ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing the Ever­est, which will be badged as a Bronco in the US. No word on tim­ing but some time in 2018 for sure.

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