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Ranger Raptor on Ford US radar

Sibling rivalry: The Ford Ranger Raptor was inspired by, and takes its name from, the larger F-150 Raptor, which has been a smash hit in the US.

Ford’s Ranger Raptor on the short list to join its big brother in the United States

General News logo13 Feb 2018

By TIM ROBSON in THAILAND

ACCORDING to Ford Ranger Raptor chief engineer Jamal Hameedi, the flagship pick-up would be a “slam dunk” in the brand’s home market and, if it were to arrive in the US, would be the first-ever Australia-designed ute offered stateside.

The locally designed, Thai-built Ranger dual-cab 4x4 pick-up is the basis for the Ranger Raptor, which features a unique strengthened chassis, new bodywork, the debut of a new powertrain combination and high-end suspension components when compared to a regular Aussie-spec Ranger.

Unveiled at a preview event in Bangkok, Thailand last week, the Ranger Raptor was designed and executed by US-based Ford Performance, and takes inspiration from the sport of off-road truck racing.

Mr Hameedi believes the upgrades to the Ranger in Raptor form would translate well for American audiences.

“Perfect. Slam dunk.” he told Australian journalists at the launch event when asked whether the Ranger Raptor could be successful in the United States.

“The suspension is so incredible. It really is the best handling pick-up truck I've ever driven, and not by an insignificant margin. I think it would go pretty well in America.”

He also denied that the Ranger Raptor – which actually has a longer dual cab than the larger F-150 Raptor – would be considered too small for the US market.

“No way,” he said emphatically. “No way.”

However, Mr Hameedi stressed that the primary concern for Ford at the moment is offering a Raptor variant in every market around the world.

“You know, we haven't said anything about availability in the US (of the Ranger Raptor),” he said. “Our first priority is to get a Raptor available to everyone on the planet.

“Americans already have an F-150 Raptor, so they're doing just fine. We have to spread Raptors to the rest of the planet.”

The Ranger Raptor, as viewed by Mr Hameedi, is also a way to expand the Ford Performance brand by offering a fettled pick-up in the popular light-commercial vehicle market.

“We make such a diverse group of vehicles we've got Focus RS, we've got Focus STs, Mustang GTs and Fiesta STs, and now this is our first (light) truck product,” said Mr Hameedi.

“I think it will not only grow Ford Performance as a performance car brand in Australia, but I think this truck … will attract a lot of new people into the performance car arena.”

Ford Asia-Pacific head of design Todd Willing would not confirm the Ranger Raptor was heading to the US, but suggested that the underpinning ute is “truly global”.

“We're happy with everything that we've produced and we get the opportunity to put vehicles in all sorts of environments, and our Ranger is truly global, so we're always excited to see products go where they go,” he told GoAuto.

The Ranger will be reintroduced to the US market later this year, marking the nameplate’s revival after almost a decade in the wilderness, and will be equipped with a version of Ford’s EcoBoost 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine – as used in Ford’s Mustang and Focus RS.

It will be backed by the same ten-speed automatic transmission used in the Ranger Raptor and forthcoming Mustang.

It will compete in the US against mid-size trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado (a larger, US-built version of the Holden Colorado sold here), as well as the GMC Canyon.

The Ranger Raptor is expected to touch down in Australia in the middle of 2018, with an estimated price of around $80,000.

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