Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

[NEWS] Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor
Ford’s European-market performance pick-up has sensational Baja rally-style thrills, and more on-road pace and appeal than its predecessor

The second-generation Ford Ranger Raptor performance pick-up truck makes a whole spectrum of noises that are variously louder and more interesting than those of its diesel-only predecessor. The warble of its new turbo V6 petrol engine, for example, when channelled through an active exhaust in what would amount to a totally unsilenced running mode if it weren’t for all the mandatory European-market exhaust after-treatment going on, sounds particularly promising. But the most interesting noise that the Raptor makes is a quiet but perceptible click that comes from its suspension just as its wheels part company with the ground – and just as that split-second of eerie silence known best by rallycross drivers and stuntmen takes over the cabin.Only a Baja-style, road-legal performance vehicle quite like this one - a modern fast Ford developed not in North America, nor in Europe, but on the dirt and sand of Australia - could ever really need systems specifically intended to cope with the realities and consequences of ‘getting air’. The click in question is produced by special position sensors mounted on the Raptor’s suspension control arms, put there with one purpose: to send a signal to the truck’s central Vehicle Dynamics Controller chassis brain just as its axles hit their 'full-Daisy-Duke-droop' position. Once you know what it means, that click will produce a Pavlovian response in a giddy driver every single time.The VDC unit, in turn, tells the Raptor’s new Fox ‘Live Valve’ adaptive dampers to promptly force extra compression pressure into the lower extremes of their travel, effectively preparing this 2.5-tonne, 5.3-metre, 288bhp flying pick-up truck for imminent landing. It seems a missed opportunity, frankly, that the seatbelt warning lights don’t flash on at this point. If your jump was high enough, and your backside drifted clear enough of the seat cushion, perhaps they would.Most importantly, though, when contact with terra firma is reestablished, the Raptor’s suspension copes with the weight, the inertia and all of the rapidly dissipating energy generated with an extraordinary matter-of-factness. There’s no squirm or pitch, very little rebound, and no sense at all that the suspension’s even near the limit of its travel. What it says is (and feel free to insert your own Aussie drawl here) “go aaahhn - go for your life, mate. I could do this all day”.And, off road at least, you’ll be amazed what else this extra-special pick-up can do. Being the first Ranger Raptor with two locking differentials, plus a proper electronically controlled four-wheel drive system with transfer gearing, it comes with 265mm of ground clearance, a ladder frame, and 70-profile knobbly BF Goodrich off-road tyres. It’s a big vehicle with a long wheelbase, and yet it climbs, descends, crawls and twists over rocks, and articulates its rear axle like some gigantic, undiscovered antipodean mountain goat. The Raptor’s go-faster coil suspension has been left only moderately firm, fairly long travel and quite dexterous, expressly for that purpose; and the car’s electronic traction control systems really do make extraordinary slopes and angles surprisingly easy to deal with.Just how much of all this, you may be wondering, will make the Ranger Raptor the kind of driver’s car that Ford will need in order to maintain its reputation as one of Europe’s chief purveyors of affordable, usable and relevant performance cars - as both the Focus and Fiesta head towards retirement? It seems a very reasonable question – and the Raptor doesn’t have too many answers.Even with this more enticing V6 petrol engine, the Ranger Raptor isn’t the most exciting fast road car, which is no doubt why so little of the test route on Ford’s launch event was on asphalt. Part of the problem is - still - power. In other territories, it’ll have much closer to 400 horsepower, but because European-market emissions regulations peg its V6 back to just 288bhp, the Raptor makes a slightly suspicious amount of noise when you give it full power without really accelerating that hard.The 10-speed automatic gearbox doesn’t help when you leave it to its own devices, often preferring to downshift a couple of times before getting on with the job at hand. Use manual mode instead and the car seems to come to heel better but, a bit disappointingly, the Raptor never really feels muscle-car fast.It is, however, remarkably well damped. There’s none of the high-frequency fidget and fuss of your average live-axle pick-up’s ride with this one. Those clever dampers are super-progressive in their inital response and filter out the kind of inputs you might find on a B-road with the all disdain you’d expect from them. It steers well for such a big car, too, and handles with decent feel and precision - though not with the balance, grip or immediacy to satisfy a sports car or even super-saloon regular.Like so many track-day specials when they’re driven on the road, the Ranger Raptor very much feels like it wants to be somewhere else. For UK drivers especially, it’s a niche proposition: it's amazing in its element, but when it’s not, it doesn’t entertain like a great driver’s car really ought to.Right now, with cars like this and the Mustang Mach-E GT, Ford Performance is busking things a bit, you sense. Working with what it’s got, and hoping, no doubt, that other strategic opportunities open up in the fullness of time.But what else can it do? The Ranger Raptor might seem like a left-field option, but it isn’t alone among modern performance vehicles in needing quite a specific environment and set of circumstances to really show its brilliance. Trust me: it can do remarkable things. The bigger question, perhaps, is what access does a particularly successful electrician from Stoke-on-Trent, or a quantity surveyor from the Lake District, have to an empty quarry with Baja-style jumps, or an idle forest rally stage? Your guess is as good as mine on that score - although we can rest assured that very few Raptor owners will feel like they need it in order to justify spending their hard-earned however they damned well like.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)