HOT ROD RANGER HERE IN 2018

New Zealand LCV - - FRONT PAGE - BY MIKE STOCK

IT HAD TO HAP­PEN: SOONER OR LATER, SOME­ONE WAS GO­ING TO come out with a fac­tory-de­vel­oped high-per­for­mance ver­sion of its ute.

Fit­tingly, given its re­cent dom­i­na­tion of the lo­cal ute mar­ket, Ford is the first cab off the rank with a barn­storm­ing ver­sion of its Ranger.

But this is no mere tar­mac-burner; this high-per­for­mance truck is de­signed to kick up the dust off-road.

Ford has given the mod­i­fied ute the Rap­tor moniker, bor­rowed from the fac­tory high-per­for­mance ver­sion of the Amer­i­can F-150 pick-up truck.

And the F-150 Rap­tor is a fear­some off-road hot rod, ca­pa­ble of run­ning se­ri­ous num­bers on the loose-sur­faced tracks of its nat­u­ral stomp­ing grounds in the deserts of Cal­i­for­nia, New Mex­ico, Texas and Ari­zona.

Like the abil­ity – depend­ing on the courage of its driv­ers – to ham­mer across the rough stuff at 160km/h.

Whether the Down Un­der Rap­tor will of­fer that sort of ex­treme per­for­mance re­mains to be seen, but if the pub­lic­ity shots are any guide, it will be able to hit high speeds off-road.

Ford’s of­fi­cial pho­to­graphs of the pro­to­type Rap­tor test­ing in what is pre­sum­ably an Aus­tralian desert show it hurtling along dusty tracks in much the same way as the F150 Rap­tor did in Ford USA’S promo shots.

The Aus­tralian pho­tos sug­gest a po­tent mo­tor and a long travel off-road sports sus­pen­sion.

Ford isn’t say­ing much about the me­chan­i­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the Ranger Rap­tor, re­ly­ing in­stead on mar­ket­ing puff to whet po­ten­tial buy­ers’ ap­petites.

It says the truck is de­signed and en­gi­neered “to de­liver an adren­a­line pump­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” and will have “a head-turn­ing ex­te­rior look that ex­udes tough­ness.”

It will also have “a level of ca­pa­bil­ity and off-road per­for­mance never be­fore seen in the mid-size pick-up truck seg­ment.”

Trevor Wor­thing­ton, Ford Asia Pa­cific’s prod­uct de­vel­op­ment vice pres­i­dent, says the Rap­tor “will of­fer Ranger fans a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to own an au­then­tic off-road per­for­mance ver­sion of their fa­vorite truck for the first time.

“We are very ex­cited to bring Asia Pa­cific’s tough­est and smartest pick-up truck to a whole new level.”

Spec­u­la­tion about the pow­er­train is rife, both in me­dia here and in the United States where the stan­dard Ranger will be sold, though Ford says it has no im­me­di­ate plans to mar­ket a Rap­tor vari­ant there.

There’s been talk that Ford will equip the Ranger with the 330kw 3.5-litre Eco­boost V6 from the F150 Rap­tor, but US com­men­ta­tors ques­tion whether that’s likely.

They sug­gest a more likely unit is Ford’s 2.7-litre twin turbo Eco­boost V6 that punches out 239kw.

Other sug­ges­tions have been the tur­bocharged four-cylin­der petrol engine from the Mus­tang Pony Car, or a high-per­for­mance de­vel­op­ment of the stan­dard Ranger’s five-cylin­der tur­bod­iesel.

The likely gear­box is also a mat­ter of con­jec­ture. The F150 Rap­tor uses a 10-speed au­to­matic and re­ports sug­gest that’s also a pos­si­bil­ity for the Ranger Rap­tor.

How­ever, one US re­port says the 10-speed is un­likely to fit into the Ranger.

What­ever hap­pens, we here at LCV Magazine are as ea­ger to know as you are; so rest as­sured we’ll keep you posted.

The Ranger Rap­tor, due here in 2018, will be part of the Ford Per­for­mance line-up which in­cludes the Ford GT, Mus­tang Shelby, Fo­cus RS and Fo­cus ST.

Left: Ford will in­tro­duce a high-per­for­mance Rap­tor ver­sion of the Ranger in 2018; this is a pro­to­type be­ing tested. Above: Ranger Rap­tor pro­to­type kicks up the dust dur­ing desert test­ing. Top: Ranger Rap­tor is de­signed to run hard and fast on off-road tracks and trails.

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