Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Ford Ranger Raptor: the waster of all terrains

Having driven the entire (and rather large) Ford Ranger family in recent months, we finally got behind the wheel of the patriarch, the Big Daddy – the Ranger Raptor. Does this halo bakkie have the grunt to match it’s aggressive posture? Our father-and-son team of Anton Willemse Jnr and Snr finds out.

Let’s not beat around the bush. We have always loved the aggressive – okay, let’s stick to being straight-up and call it what it is: badass – styling the Ford Ranger Raptor brings to the line-up. However, we have also had numerous fireside debates, wondering if it is really worth the R100kodd more you have to fork out for what many people believe is an overpriced body kit and suspension.

Both the Ford Thunder and Wildtrak boasts more safety and tech features than their sexy big brother, they are super capable, and it’s not as if their styling is not on point either… So, for us to assume the Ranger Raptor is a waste of money was surely not unwarranted? Having driven it for a week, both in town and on a long haul to Limpopo, I now know for a fact that it is just that…. An assumption (and we all know what an assumption really is!).

Upon closer inspection, we realised exactly why this beast is more expensive than its Ranger brothers. Simply put: its because it is not just another Ranger… far from it, actually! Yes, it has the Ranger’s badge, the Ranger’s 2.0 Litre Bi-Turbo engine, which is mated to a 10-speed auto box, producing a familiar 157 kW and 500 Nm. However, that’s where the similarities stop.

The biggest difference, of course, is the Raptor’s chassis and suspension. The conventional ladder frame chassis starts as a normal Ford Ranger chassis in the front end, but as soon as you move to the rear, you’ll find that it has the Everest-like architecture. This means that, unlike the Ranger’s leaf spring layout, the Raptor has Fox Racing coil-overs on all four corners. This translates to a 150 mm wider wheel track and improved suspension travel with 32% in front and 22% at the rear. The tyres are also massive, with our test unit sporting 285/70- R17 BF Goodrich Ko2’s. Coupled with the Fox suspension, it means you’re towering above everybody on the road with 283 mm ground clearance. This, of course, translates into better approach, departure and hangover angles. A superb, capable off-roader then!

Ford claims 8.2-litre/100 km figures on the open road and 9.4-litre/100 km around town. We managed 10.7-litre/100 km and 11.2-litre/100 km, respectively, but seeing that you’re driving a racing bakkie, your foot might be a bit heavier. Driving this beauty to Limpopo was a sheer pleasure since the pothole-littered roads had zero impact, and we did not even feel we had to slow down. About town, the aggressive design and F150-inspired “Ford” grille, turns heads. As for gravel travel, it is what you’d expect: firmly planted and comfortable, and it’s clear this bakkie was made for this. We had a whole lot of fun, especially when we popped it to manual and rushed through the gears via the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. What a pleasure! However, this bakkie is not perfect, and there is that one niggle… In this case, the engine. Now, there is nothing wrong with the 2.0 Bi-turbo. It puts out a good amount of power without being too thirsty. Obviously, this is the sensible engine option. But why would you want sensible in a racing bakkie? It’s a little like buying a 2.3-litre Mustang even though you can afford the 5-litre! We wish the Ranger Raptor were a bit more… let’s say, crazy. Like its bigger counterpart available in the US, the F150 Raptor.

In conclusion, though: if you are looking for a bakkie to tackle any terrain and turn heads, you can’t go wrong with the Ford Ranger Raptor. We never got to ramping it (as was suggested by one of the Ford team members), but we did have the most fun you can have with your clothes on (as he promised).

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