By: Natasha Archary
Fellow Fordies. High-performance driving enthusiasts. Off-road trail-blazers. Those familiar with the Raptor F-150. And basically, every human being on the planet, would have been forgiven for anticipating the reveal of the Ranger Raptor in the country.
Ford unveiled the exciting Ranger Raptor to media last week and we stood in awe of this spectacular beast of all-terrain splendor. An unprecedented, overnight experience was planned for motoring journo’s from across the country as well as international borders to rip into the Raptor.
More than a sexy face
There’s no denying, the Raptor is stunning to look at with the distinctive Ford black grill and branding aggressively in your face and rugged sport fenders and grill. The unique F-150 design cues are heavily present in the Ranger Raptor and we couldn’t be more pleased with Ford for nailing the aesthetic features.
But the Raptor is more than a sexy face and high back rear. I’ve tried all weekend since the media launch to find words that would do it justice. The closest I’ve come, is to say it lives up to the Jurassic Park monster moniker. Because the Ranger Raptor is just that, a beast in the high-performance category, taking all terrain sport driving to next level extremes.
Let’s break it down
The Ranger Raptor is assembled in South Africa at Ford’s Silverton plant. It falls under Ford’s expansion program, with the brand exporting to 37 countries in Europe. The 4×4 offers an exhilarating drive, with a balanced, integrative terrain management system.
Significant off-road performance and vehicle upgrades means the Raptor has outstanding sporty handling; distinctive exterior brand trademarks and an interior that utilizes the space optimally. The seats are the definitive feature to note. Comfortable, sport bucket, racing seats that hugs you to make drifting on dirt the most relaxed drive ever.
Mark Perry, Vehicle Dynamics Engineer on the Raptor, weighed in on the design elements. Pointing to a stripped-down Raptor chassis, we were given a bird’s eye view of exactly what makes the Raptor such an innovation in its class.
The chassis consists of various grade of High Strength, Low Alloy (HSLA) steel. Optimized steering arms enable the Raptor to take on quicker, sharper turns, making steering this huge beast a dream.
Position sensitive, damping shock absorbers manufactured by Fox, means you’re the King/ Queen of the road when you get behind the Raptor. Giving you an upper edge on undulating terrain at high speeds.
We put the Raptor to the test on three rigorous courses in Upington; a remote salt pan. Taking on gravel, rock, sand dunes and open road like a road hungry Raptor, you can hear the aggressive power as the vehicle’s 10-speed automatic transmission changes gears.
Terrain Management System
What makes the Raptor so easy to drive? The incredible Terrain Management System. With six modes for effortless driving, you’d swear the Raptor drives itself. It may as well. Various traction control settings pretty much makes you feel redundant as a driver.
Having never taken on sand dunes in my life, I was convinced I would choke the Raptor on the challenging 45-degree inclines and sharp descents.
“Take your foot off the brake.” My instructor advises on a ridiculous sharp decline.
Any hesitation could sink the Raptor into the soft sand. Foot off the brake, the wheels find the sand and snakes their way easily down the sharp terrain. Like a walk in the park. This is what the Raptor does. It takes a novice, everyday driver like myself and turns her into a high performance, speed driver capable of drifting on gravel, and hitting rally hot-laps like it’s something I do for a living.
Baja Mode, is an unparalled system that makes the off-road experience with the Raptor like child’s play. Aggressive downshifts, means the Raptor is the ultimate fun drive. Combining on-road luxury and utility with exhilarating off-road capability.
But wait, there’s more
BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 tyres give the Raptor a competitive edge in all types of terrain and conditions. It would have been great to test the vehicle along a low stream or river but there’s always next time.
Magnus Gouws, Customer Engineering Support, gave us some insight into the concept of the Raptor’s standard all-terrain tyres. The interlocked design prevents stones and mud from gripping into the tyre. This is important so the surface of the tread can maintain maximum traction.
A serrated shoulder design and staggered shoulder blocks provide greater maneuverability in soft soil. Every detail on the Raptor is built-in for overall performance. And the Raptor is everything the promotional material says it is and then some.
Retailing at R786 400, the price is competitive in a market with white space in the high-performance 4×4 category. Unlike the Ford Ranger that’s built for tough utility functions, the Raptor though it can perform the average heavy-duty tasks, is built for so much more.
You do not want to buy this beast to hit the city traffic every day. It would be a waste of aesthetics and performance engineering not to rip into the Raptor on treacherous terrain as often as possible.
There’s nothing like it on the market currently and Ford has certainly set a new benchmark of wow in the industry. The closest competitors at the moment are the Isuzu Arctic AT35, 3.0L Si-T Diesel and the Amarok Extreme V6, 3.0L Si-T Diesel.
Isuzu Arctic AT35, 3.0L Si-T Diesel
6 speed auto
R 785 000
Amarok Extreme V6, 3.0L Si-T Diesel
8 speed auto
R 829 000
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2.0L Bi-T Diesel
10 speed auto
R 786 400