HOT ROD RANGER HERE IN 2018
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.