Raptor rises with

revamped Rangers

Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, side
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, rear
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, water splash
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, front
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, interior
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, drive mode panel
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, load bed
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, engine
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, rear seats
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, steering wheel paddles
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, grille
Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019, badge

IT'S the ultimate pick-up truck and Ford's decision to bring the Raptor to the UK underscores its dominance of the market.

The performance version of the top selling Ranger comes complete with race bred fixtures and fittings, sporty body tweaks and a 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to a 10-speed auto box.

As such the Raptor is set up akin to the trucks used in the fabled Baja off-road races.

Priced from £47,874 the Raptor becomes the flagship of a revised Ranger line up but not only is it more expensive than the regular models it also misses out on VAT exemption.

Pick-ups which can carry a tonne or more escape the tax but the Raptor's load is limited to 625kg.

Yet that is unlikely to deter those interested in owning a slice of an off-road legend that's honed in America.

The Raptor comes with aggressive styling featuring a dominating grille with the Ford name spelled out in capitals across the front.

A raised ride height, chunky Goodrich tyres on 17-inch alloys and plenty of body protection are stand out features and ground clearance is up by more than 50mm over the standard Ranger to 283mm.

It also features a double cab body, uprated brakes and a load bed that's more than 1.5 metres long and wide.

The engine is uprated to 213ps and that is good enough to give the Raptor a 0 to 60 performance time of 10.5 seconds with a maximum of 108mph - not at all shabby for a vehicle weighing in at more than 2.5 tonnes.

Fuel economy is officially rated at 31.7mpg with emissions of 233g/km although on our run in the Raptor which was mainly off-road we could average only 23 to the gallon.

But is how the Raptor rides and handles which impresses and with race-tuned suspension featuring Fox Racing shock absorbers plus six drive modes it is an awesome beast.

One of those modes is a specific Baja setting purely designed to get the best from its performance in the rough.

Others include settings for sporty driving, grass and gravel, mud and sand, rock travel and work in snow - which covers all bases.

Inside, as with all new Rangers, the cockpit has been improved considerably and now features Ford's latest Sync connectivity system and an eight-inch screen.

Sat nav is standard on the Raptor and on top specification Ranger Wildtrack models.

The interior is very SUV-like and that includes comfortable sports seats, a TFT display on the instrument panel and a multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifters.

Off-road drive settings are electronically controlled and can switch the Raptor from rear wheel drive to all wheel drive at the turn of a knob and the selection of low ratio gears can be done on the move.

On forest tracks close to the Goodwood estate in Sussex the Raptor showed its mettle in no uncertain terms with a degree of composure that would confound most other SUVs and the 10-speed transmission is as smooth as it is effective - high or low ratio gears.

And while its load capacity may be less than other Rangers - and the new-look range starts from £20,845 excluding VAT - the Raptor can still tow up to 2.5 tonnes and that's on par with other pick-ups.

The Ranger has dominated the pick-up market in the UK for the past three years notching up more than 16,000 sales in 2018 and with the Raptor on board its appeal looks set to grown.

Ford anticipates it will account for some 10 per cent of Ranger sales in the new line up while the most popular version will remain the Wildtrack - priced from £29,745 without VAT - which is set to make up the lions' share at more than 60 per cent.

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