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Ford confirms Ranger Raptor production

Ranger Raptor performance hero coming to Australia in 2018, Ford still testing

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Ford logo7 Sep 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

FORD Australia has confirmed it will boost its Ford Performance stable, with the long-rumoured Ranger Raptor pick-up set to be launched in Australia in 2018.

Images and a video have been released of the camouflaged Raptor undergoing high-sped off-road testing in the Australian Outback, with Ford’s Asia Pacific Product Development Centre to continue development and testing of the vehicle before it is finally revealed.

Ford has revealed little about the Raptor other than its confirmation for the Australian market, however GoAuto has previously reported details on the new Ranger halo model that sets it apart from its workhorse siblings.

The Raptor is likely to eschew the Ranger’s leaf-sprung rear end in favour of a five-link coil set-up, with the Baja-style high-speed off-road driving in the promotional video suggesting as much.

It will also have a lower centre of gravity compared to the regular Ranger with a wider wheel track and flared wheel arches, which give the Raptor a tougher and more menacing look.

Disc brakes front and rear are also rumoured to be fitted to the Raptor, and will likely be shared on the next-generation Everest SUV and the all-new US-market Bronco SUV that will be based on the next Ranger/Everest.

The Raptor will likely be the sole Ranger variant to sport a petrol engine, as suggested by the exhaust note in the teaser video.

GoAuto has previously reported that the hi-po Ranger will probably use a turbocharged EcoBoost V6 from the North American market, with the main candidates being twin-turbo versions of the 3.0-litre six or the 3.5-litre donk powering the American F-150 Raptor.

The 3.0-litre unit is capable of producing up to 298kW/542Nm under the bonnet of the Lincoln Continental, while the F-150 Raptor’s engine can pump out a hefty 336kW/691Nm.

Either application would comfortably hand the Ranger Raptor the title of the most powerful one-tonne pick-up in Australia, while the torque figure in the smaller 3.0-litre V6 almost matches the 550Nm in the diesel-powered Volkswagen Amarok and upcoming Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

Visually, the Raptor is expected to eschew the Blue Oval front badge in favour of the Ford name emblazoned in large, black letters across the length of the grille, while the front bumper skirting will be swapped out for a bashplate accompanied by a pair of tow hooks.

A greater departure angle is achieved thanks to the towbar being tucked up further towards the tub, which is a result of customer feedback complaining about the vehicle’s tendency to drag its rear end in the rough stuff.

Autonomous emergency braking is expected to make its way into the Raptor, along with pedestrian detection technology and 360-degree parking cameras.

While Ford is not discussing sales targets of the Ranger Raptor, a Ford Australia spokesperson told GoAuto that it should attract strong interest given that it was a product of customer feedback, but the car-maker does not expect it to become a volume seller.

Pricing for the Raptor is still a way off, but expect it to carry a sizeable premium over the current top-spec Ranger, the dual-cab Wildtrak automatic, which retails for $61,790 plus on-roads.

The Raptor will likely come with a pricetag somewhere in the region of $80,000, which would make it the most expensive model in Ford Australia’s line-up.

Ford Asia Pacific vice-president product development Trevor Worthington said the company was eager to bring the Ranger Raptor Down Under.

“We are very excited to bring Asia Pacific’s toughest and smartest pickup truck to a whole new level,” he said. “Ford Ranger Raptor will offer Ranger fans a fantastic opportunity to own an authentic off-road performance version of their favourite truck for the first time.”

The Raptor will also go some way to filling the hi-po void left by the Falcon XR8 ute, after production of the locally-built Falcon ceased last year.

Through the first eight months of 2016, Ford has sold 28,302 examples of the Ranger, with 24,257 of those being 4x4 variants – and increase of 21.4 per cent over the 19,987 sold to the same point last year.

Sales of 4x2 variants have dropped 0.1 per cent to 4045 units, just five shy of the 2016 figure.

Ford is beating Toyota and its HiLux for 4x4 sales (24,257 to 23,132), but the HiLux takes the combined sales gong with 31,407 total units moved.

More details on the Raptor’s timing, specification and pricing will be revealed closer to its launch next year.

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Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.