By on 2019-05-28 -
Raptor likes it
IF you think you are seeing more pick-ups around these days then you're not imagining it.
Sales of the pick-up have been increasing and last year market leader in the UK, Ford, sold more than 16,000 of them.
In June it will launch the latest generation of its popular Ranger and the line up will include a Raptor version - on sale in the UK in September and priced at £48,784 including VAT.
That's right, just shy of fifty grand for a pick-up and not even one that goes that fast - it takes 10.9 seconds to get to 62 mph.
But the Raptor couldn't care less because Tarmac is not its favourite surface.
Yes there are some changes to make it more dynamic, there's a Sport mode for the new 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel and it even has magnesium paddle shifters so you can switch through the ten gears.
But it's not really about any of that.
The Raptor is about off-road performance, not the rock crawling ability of a Jeep Wrangler or crossing a field in the luxury of a Mercedes X-Class, but charging through terrain at speed as though you are being chased down by Stephane Peterhansel on the Dakar.
In order to do that the Raptor has been extensively re-engineered.
The main element is the suspension, where it now has Fox semi-racing shocks on all four wheels.
Damien Ross, chief programme engineer for the Ranger Raptor, said that many competitors on the Baja 1000 off road rally in the US do not like to recce the route in their multi-million dollar race cars and instead fit Fox shocks and upgrade other components of their standard pick-ups to thrash them through the desert.
Ford decided to do the same thing and that is where the original F-150 Raptor came from.
Now the idea has been applied to the Ranger and as well as the racing shocks, it gets a stiffened chassis, Watts link independent rear suspension instead of the Ranger's usual leaf springs, steel bash plates and larger disc brakes.
There's that new engine too, which develops 13hp and 30Nm more torque than the 3.2 TDCI at 210hp and 500Nm.
The four-cylinder is a bit of a compromise though, providing strong torque from 1,750- 2,000rpm but it feels as though it runs out of puff as you urge it to deliver more while the wheels are ploughing through the sand.
But that won't bother many owners, because unless you are on Pendine Sands or you have a farm on the coast, chances are you aren't going to be charging along too many sand tracks anyway.
There are six driving settings, ranging from Normal to Rocks and then there's the Baja mode, which dials back all the traction control settings and give you maximum attack on the throttle response for when you need to hit those dunes hard or get through a muddy track with gritted teeth.
It's easy to find yourself wondering what the point is though, at least in the UK.
Surely the Raptor is aimed at owners who can play around in Mexico, tackle great dunes in the Sahara or maybe do donuts on a snow covered Icelandic glacier.
None of that sounds very environmentally friendly, but the Raptor's not into being politically correct. It's about lifestyle, adventure, the knowledge that you could join owners of expensive SUVs in the Dubai desert for a bit of desert fun.
It's about going for a drive, off the beaten track where others fear to tread.
Not everyone will buy it for those rather good reasons though.
Most people will buy it because it is the flagship Ranger and it's the best production pick-up for off-road performance.
As far as pick-up snobbery goes, it will be the one to have.
It won't beat the Mercedes X350d or the Volkswagen Amarok V6 TDI away from the lights but it beats them on attitude and it certainly beats them on ability to charge through sand and mud without feeling like your teeth are being rattled.
The Ford Ranger Raptor is not cheap but it is tremendous fun, especially if you have a proper playground to chuck it around on.
Find one and it will all become clear but if you just want to brag to everyone that you have a Raptor then that's probably going to be fine too.
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