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Ford gambles on smaller diesel for Ranger Raptor

Baja blaster: Ford’s aggressive body styling for the Ranger Raptor hides genuine off-road racing credentials underthe skin.

Ford downsizes to 2.0-litre diesel for its new top-spec Ranger Raptor dual-cab ute

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Ford logo7 Feb 2018

By TIM ROBSON in BANGKOK

FORD Australia has revealed its most aggressively designed and highly specified dual-cab ute, the Ranger Raptor, ahead of a mid-year launch in Australia.

Unveiled in Bangkok, the Thai-built Ranger Raptor marks a big departure from the stock PX II Ranger, gaining Ford’s new twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, updated chassis with a new Watts link-equipped rear suspension and off-road Fox Racing shock absorbers, and rear disc brakes.

The smaller but more powerful twin-turbo, four-cylinder diesel engine makes 157kW and 500Nm, making it the strongest Ranger in the local line-up, despite its diminutive size.

Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi said driving the Raptor made a person feel like a hero.

“Just like the (US market) F-150 Raptor, the Ranger Raptor builds upon the core capability of the range of vehicles it comes from and carries the unmistakable Ford Performance DNA appearance which people instantly recognise,” he said.

The high-riding Ranger Raptor’s design is said to be inspired by the unique silhouette and construction of desert-racing Trophy Trucks.

Compared with current range topper, the Wildtrak, the Raptor is 330mm wider (2180mm), and sits on a track widened by 150mm at each end. It is also rides 25mm taller at 1873mm and 9mm longer at 5398mm.

A new grille, bonnet and wider composite front mudguards combine with an all-new rear tub housing a tray 1560mm wide and 1643mm long.

The tub is treated with a spray-on bed liner and equipped with an Ezy-lift strut on the tailgate.

Large rear wheel arches and an all-new rear end complete the aggressive design, which was overseen by Ford’s Tasmanian-born Asia-Pacific head of design, Todd Willing – the man behind the 2015 Ford GT.

The Raptor’s new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is 1.2 litres and one cylinder smaller than the 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine that will continue to be used in the Ranger line-up, and 200cc smaller than the Ranger‘s entry-level 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel.

Despite that, its output of 157kW and 500Nm is 39kW and 115Nm more than the 118kW/385Nm of the 2.2, and 10kW and 30Nm more than the 147kW/470Nm of the 3.2.

The high-compression EcoBlue diesel – which is also offered in a single-turbo applications for Ford’s commercial vehicles such as the Transit – has a pair of turbochargers on the hot side of the longitudinally mounted inline engine, with a large intercooler in front of the radiator.

The turbos are staggered in size, with the smaller unit spinning up earlier in the rev range before the larger unit takes over to provide boost higher up.

The engine sends power to all four wheels via a transfer case that offers low-range capability, and the Raptor uses Ford’s new 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission that is also set to debut in the updated 2018 Mustang.

The 10-speed auto – a first in any type of pick-up – features magnesium paddle shifters that can be used to override gear selection at any time.

It has six drive modes – Normal, Sport and Weather in 2WD guise, Mud/Sand and Baja (both 4WD) and Rock/Gravel (4WD Low only).

The Baja mode is the most aggressive, winding back traction and stability control and changing the shift map to hold gears for longer.

The Raptor is only rated to tow 2500kg – 1000kg less than the 3.2-litre engine-equipped Ranger with a braked trailer. No weights were provided.

Chassis-wise, the Raptor uses the same MacPherson strut front arrangement as the regular Ranger up front, albeit with longer springs and US-made Fox Racing Shox dampers. No anti-roll bars are fitted to the Raptor.

The rear end, meanwhile, has been completely made over, with a Watts linkage-equipped coil-sprung axle with Fox inline dampers. This makes it only the second dual-cab 4x4 on sale in Australia after the Nissan Navara with a coil-sprung rear.

The Fox shocks are Performance Series inline units that are mounted separately to the coil spring in the rear, while the forged alloy upper and cast alloy lower links save weight over similar steel items.

The chassis rails of the Ranger Raptor have been strengthened with additional reinforcement for the front shock towers and new hard-mount points for the rear end.

Braking has been upgraded, with larger front rotors and two-piston callipers up front, and a disc-brake upgrade for the rear in place of the standard drums.

The final piece of the chassis puzzle is the addition of 17-inch dark-coloured alloy rims, fitted with high-spec 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres from Michelin-owned BF Goodrich. Along with the long-travel suspension, the large wheel and tyre package raises the ride height of the Raptor to 283mm, 46mm higher than the Wildtrak.

Ranger Raptor chief program engineer Damien Ross said: “The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available production road vehicle in our markets, and still ride like a millionaire on-road.

“Everything about the Ranger Raptor builds on the already outstanding sophisticated feel and functional capability of the Ranger, and then goes further. From a driving dynamic fun standpoint, it is really an exceptionally special vehicle.”

Meanwhile, the interior of the Raptor sports an 8.0-inch SYNC3 multimedia screen, along with bespoke sports seats, a new steering wheel, leather and suede-acccented trim, magnesium shifter paddles, dual-zone air conditioning and the Ranger’s standard suite of driver aids that include AEB, lane departure control and warning, as well as driver alert and automatic high-beam.

The Raptor joins an increasing array of 4x4 pick-ups with extended feature sets like the HSV Colorado Sportcat, Toyota’s latest HiLux Rugged X and the more powerful Volkswagen Amarok V6 Ultimate.

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