GET AIR, DON’T TOW

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - MOTORING - Joshua Dowl­ing

1. IT HAS A 2.0-LITRE ENGINE

For all its machismo and $75K-plus price tag, the Ranger Rap­tor has a (rel­a­tively) small four­cylin­der diesel un­der the bon­net, with twin tur­bocharg­ers and a 10-speed auto giv­ing the 2.0-litre a boost. The 0-100km/h time claimed by Ford and ver­i­fied by us and other out­lets is 10.5 sec­onds, about as quick as a Toy­ota Corolla. The VW Amarok TDV6 and RAM 1500 V8 both stop the clocks in 7.8 sec­onds.

2. IT’S HEAVY

All that ex­tra gear — such as the in­sanely good Fox shocks, unique chas­sis, wider track, big­ger brakes and nob­bly tyres — add a heap of weight that pushes the Rap­tor past 2.4 tonnes. The 2.0-litre engine and trans­mis­sion are good for haul­ing 3500kg in the Ranger XLT and Wild­trak but the Rap­tor’s tow ca­pac­ity is capped at 2500kg be­cause the sus­pen­sion is de­signed to han­dle jumps rather than big trail­ers. The turn­ing cir­cle is broader than most ri­vals but not awk­wardly huge.

3. IT’S SLIP­PERY WHEN WET

When we tested the Rap­tor at the launch in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory I came away gob­s­macked by how much grip the BF Goodrich K02 tyres had. Whether try­ing to cor­ner on rub­ble or pow­der-like dust, they were so pro­foundly good they felt like vel­cro. On sealed roads they don’t hum as much as other off-road tyres. And their dry brak­ing per­for­mance is on par with less ag­gres­sive rub­ber. There is, how­ever, one large caveat. These tyres are dicey in the wet. Even on a mildly damp road af­ter a light shower the tyres strug­gle to move from rest with­out trig­ger­ing trac­tion con­trol. When it’s wet, pro­ceed with cau­tion.

4. THERE ARE FEW FAULTS TO FOR­GIVE

It’s more than just a dress-up kit. The thor­ough­ness of the en­gi­neer­ing is quite re­mark­able, es­pe­cially given it will sell in rel­a­tively small num­bers. Buy­ing a fac­tory-built and backed desert racer off the show­room floor is no small feat. The Rap­tor is live­able day-to­day, de­spite its gnarly off-road po­ten­tial. Disc brakes at each cor­ner have a pre­cise feel and do the job. The ar­ti­fi­cial engine sound does an OK job of dis­guis­ing what’s un­der the bon­net and you soon ad­just your driv­ing style to get the most out of it, which usu­ally in­volves press­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor ear­lier and for longer.

5. THERE’S ROOM TO IM­PROVE

Ford would have a world-beater if it could fit the next Rap­tor with a turbo diesel sim­i­lar to the VW Amarok’s, find a tyre that has bet­ter grip in the wet and en­gi­neer a gen­uine 3500kg tow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

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