FORD RANGER RAPTOR JUMPS INTO MZANSI

BY TUMELO MAKETEKETE

 

Introduction

You may have come across George Orwell’s book called the Animal Farm. Somewhere in the there he speaks about “all animals being equal but some more equal than others”. Is this just not the situation of life in general?

Ford South Africa recently added the new, highly-anticipated Ranger Raptor into its product range. I will not judge you if you are inclined to compare this bakkie to Volkswagen’s Amarok, which is similarly priced. Nor will I blame you should you claim that it is just another bakkie on the Mzansi market. The truth is, it is not your average “off-the-shelf-4×4” bakkie we have come to know from this segment. Like the pigs in Animal Farm, it is much more equal, and in my view a definite game-changer.

Exterior and styling

The new Raptor has an aggressive look, with bold “FORD” letters that immediately catch the eye and are displayed on the front grille. Incorporated into the “bad boy”- looking headlights are daytime running lights. Below the main lights cluster are LED fog lamps mounted on the bumper. Thick towing shackles protrude through the bumper while the chin is protected with a thick matt-silver bash plate.

Its stance is intimidating (150mm wider track), alluding to the fact that it is built to out-perform so-called leaders of the pack in this segment. It also has a 51mm taller ride height. The following exterior colours are offered: Ford Performance Blue, Colorado Red, Absolute Black, Frozen White and Conquer Grey. The blue stood out more for me, especially with the stickers on either side of the rear end. Surprisingly none of the bakkies at the launch had anything on the bonnet, as we see so often with after-market Raptor sticker kits.

The wheel arches are flared and butch. Unlike the aluminium side steps which have sort of become industry specification (and are the first items to bend when breaking over obstacles), these side steps are proper steel and stand a better chance if used as rock sliders. The rear end has not changed much except for a higher load bin, with heavy duty shackles on either side of the tow bar that prides itself a detachable tow hook.

The interior detail is modern, fresh and crisp, with stitching on the dashboard leather and a whole new instrument cluster, purely designed for this beast. All models have a centre red marker on the steering wheel, which comes very handy when one is busy tackling rough terrain as it gives a glance of the wheel direction. Within immediate reach of the fingers are paddle shifters for gearing both up or down manually.

A user-friendly multi-function media screen sits proudly in the centre. Something else worth mentioning is the inclusion of Tracks4Africa as an option of navigation, for those bold and eager enough to explore routes less travelled.

Specially designed racing type front seats (with a suede centre) snugly hug both driver and front passenger during even the harshest of terrains. These both have lumber support for the pair in the front, with variable setting seat warmers.

You are forgiven to think and feel like you are driving in a sedan as opposed to a truck, such is the level of comfort within the cabin. A dual-zone air conditioner sets the ambience another level, but such is expected for a vehicle of the price tag.

Performance

At the heart of the Raptor is a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine plant which delivers 157kW of power and a maximum torque of 500Nm. Mated to is the smooth new 10-speed automatic gearbox which does not hunt between gears. Very important when off-roading as this could mean a difference of momentum and/or speed and could possibly contribute to you digging yourself in, either in sand or muddy conditions.

Standard off the production line is an uprated suspension, with Fox shock absorbers that offer position sensitive damping (PSD). This means even under extreme demands of performance these shocks stand their ground, allowing for even smooth landing after jumping the bakkie. Outstanding, indeed.

Also standard in the range, and specifically made for the Raptor are BF Goodrich A/T 285/70/17 tyres, which also aid in the bakkie standing 283mm bold and confident. The tyres complement the already aggressive looking wheel and adds to the “bully-ness” of the bakkie.

The suspension, shock absorber and wheel combination allow for class topping approach and departure angles, 32.5 and 24 degrees, respectfully. Wading (or swimming) depth has also been increased from 800 to 850mm.

Just when you think you have seen it all, brakes are disc all around the bakkie (332 x 32mm in the front and 332 x 24mm at the rear), which is something not normal for a bakkie in this class.

Off-road

The Raptor is a true off-roader to a point of even putting some of its stable mates to shame, namely the normal Ranger, even in 3.2-litre guise. Like an athlete on steroids, its approach to off-road is ruthless and unapologetic. Different driving modes are available from normal to sand, snow, mud and even Baja – this being responsible for high speed rally-like driving that sees the Raptor jumping off ramps like a professional high jumper at Olympics. It pushes limits and scientific boundaries, leaving the driver limited by his/her fear of something or the other. The Raptor does not play well with other “childrens”.

Safety

Besides what is considered standard in our times in terms of safety, this monster has Ford Stability Control (FSC) and Roll Stability Control (RSC), a type of parachute system for this flying outlaw.

The Verdict

The new Ford Ranger Raptor is not a normal animal in the farm; it is a leader. It is a hunter, ruthless with no future possibility of being tamed, either by man or other fellow animals. For the kind of performance you get off the production line, it is a package well-thought out, researched and put together. Considering that for any other bakkie to give such outstanding agility, performance and comfort (on and off-road), such would need extensive upgrades in suspension, wheels and/or bumpers, and possibly the engine to be able to turn those big “tekkies” with such ease.

That said, the only other expense one would need after such a purchase, will go towards camping gear, things like roof racks, storage, fridge/freezer slides and a secondary battery and its charging system to power the said gear.

 

Ford Ranger Raptor Price

Raptor – R786 400

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