This raptor is all predator

by Andy Bryenton

One night in Bangkok, or so the song says, makes the tough guys tumble. If you’re talking about the tough guys in the competitive field of modern utes, then tumble they did when Ford’s much anticipated Ranger Raptor broke cover in the Thai capital this week.

While the much talked about super-evolution of the popular Ranger utility may not have delivered the sheer firepower, which some punters dreamed of, judging this machine by the figures under the hood alone is somewhat like judging Leonardo Da Vinci by his haircut. There’s no assive Mustang derived V8 in there, or even the screaming turbo V6 from the Le Mans winning GT. Instead, power comes from a four-pot biturbo, which delivers 147 kilowatts — just ten more than the conventional Ranger. In a powerful illustration of the old adage, however, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi has channelled more of Colin Chapman and less of Harley Earl when creating the Raptor. With attention focused on the chassis and suspension to deliver breathtaking offroad chops, the Ranger Raptor can trace its DNA back through the F150 Raptor and down to Baja-busting trophy trucks. 

In the harsh deserts of the American southwest, a big mill is no substitute for clever shocks, massive grip and responsive handling. Jamal should know — he worked on trophy winners for nearly a decade. 

While the engine and its clever pair of turbos have been extensively tested and are impressive in their own right — allegedly both turbochargers have been test run red hot for 200 hours without breaking — it’s the suspension setup which makes the Ranger Raptor devour the roughest terrain. This is the first ever ute with a Watt’s linkage and coilovers in the rear, and those shocks are truly race quality — as costly as the engine itself.

So the purpose of the Ranger Raptor became beautifully clear as it literally jumped onto the stage in Bangkok in front of an excited audience.

It’s not a drag racer, a chromed out street creeper, a boat towing luxury barge or a rugged farm truck. It’s an off-road contender in street clothes, and it’s the real deal.

Notice the sixth mode on its dial, next to ‘grass’ and ‘gravel’. It’s marked ‘Baja’ — and it’s not kidding.