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Ford rules out manual Ranger Raptor
Automatic ‘a much more natural fit’ for Ranger Raptor high-speed off-roader: Ford
26 Jul 2018
FORD has revealed that its engineering team did not seriously considered offering the Ranger Raptor performance ute with a manual gearbox due to the suitability of an automatic transmission for high-speed off-roading.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the Ranger Raptor international media launch in the Northern Territory, Ford Ranger Raptor chief program engineer Damien Ross ruled out introducing a manual gearbox as an option for the Ranger Raptor in the future.
“You’ve driven it off-road,” he said. “You don’t really want to be messing about with a stick at the same time as you’re doing everything else. That’s the reason, and in the US, it’s the same thing.
“The off-road modes, the fact that you’re driving it a bit faster off-road, you try and pick (important characteristics). The (paddle shifters) just made a much more natural fit with the vehicle, obviously with an automatic.”
Specifically, the Ranger Raptor employs a 10-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters, which was co-developed with rival General Motors and is used by other diesel-powered models in the Blue Oval’s line-up.
“Offering 10 gears means a wider ratio span, resulting in better acceleration and responsiveness,” according to Ford.
“With more room to optimise gear spacing, gear progression can be customised for more accurate and quicker shifts.
“It also features real-time adaptive shift-scheduling algorithms engineered for precise gear selection.”
As mentioned, the automatic transmission plays a significant role in the Ranger Raptor’s terrain management system that features six modes – Normal, Sport and Weather (2WD), Mud/Sand and Baja (4WD), and Rock/Gravel (4WD Low).
Each mode allows the driver to adjust the shift pattern of the 10-speeder to suit driving conditions, with Sport and Baja, in particular, holding onto gears much longer than the other four modes while also downshifting more promptly.
When questioned if the company anticipated any customer demand for a manual Ranger Raptor, Mr Ross explained enthusiasts will understand why the automatic transmission is a better choice, while he again referenced this formula’s success in the US market.
“If you drive this off-road, you’ll see you don’t want a manual,” he said. “That’s my view, and that was the view of team. And that’s the same reason they went down that route with the F-150 (Raptor).”
The F-150 Raptor has developed a cult following in the US and other markets, thanks to its 3.5-litre EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that develops 336kW of power and 691Nm of torque via an in-house 10-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission, with no manual gearbox offered.
As previously reported, the Ranger Raptor is motivated a 2.0-litre EcoBlue twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm from 1750 to 2000rpm.
A single-turbo version of the EcoBlue unit is employed by the Transit van in overseas markets, where it can be matched to a six-speed manual gearbox.
This suggests that re-engineering the manual-EcoBlue combination for the twin-turbo engine would not be impossible – if the car-maker changes its mind.
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