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ford ranger raptor4 800x450

A dedicated performance bakkie is a bold project to embark on, but buoyed by its success with the Raptor name in its left-hand drive only F150 pickup, Ford thought it'd be a good idea to make a Ranger Raptor, and here it is. As pictures will attest, it certainly looks the part. It will initially be assembled in Thailand and then production will kick off at Ford South Africa's plant in Silverton, Pretoria. The vehicle is scheduled to go on sale locally in 2019.

Let’s just say that it audaciously rips up that “no replacement for displacement” rule book, embracing the modern downsizing trend with a twin-turbocharged 2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine.

Mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, the 2-litre is potent for its size, producing 157kW and 500Nm, but fans will almost certainly be disappointed that it makes just 10kW and 30Nm more than the current 3.2-litre five-pot turbodiesel, and they'll no doubt envy the North American Ranger customers - who will get the Mustang's 2.3-litre turbopetrol, even in their workhorse-spec models!

That said, those are impressive outputs for a 2-litre and Ford claims to have torture tested it to the extreme to prove durability - including running a ‘thermo cycle’ on the engine to heat both turbos to the point of “glowing red” for 200 hours non-stop.

With a ground clearance of 283mm, the Raptor rides 46mm higher than regular 4x4 Rangers, sporting Fox Racing shock absorbers and a new Watt’s linkage rear suspension with coilover rear springs aimed at improving rear axle lateral stability off road. Ford has also improved the approach and departure angles to 32.5 and 24.0 degrees respectively.

Although at first glance the untrained eye might struggle to distinguish it from some of the more creatively decorated Rangers already parading SA streets, Ford has put considerable effort into the stylistic aspect, even fitting widened composite fenders to accommodate the 17-inch wheels with oversized 285mm-wide BF Goodrich All-terrain tyres.

In addition to the already-familiar block-letter grille, the Raptor gets a frame-mounted off-road bumper with functional air-curtain ducts, while the rear gets its own modified bumper as well as two recovery hooks.

Available exterior hues include Lightning Blue, Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White and Conquer Grey.

Keeping the mood alive inside are sport front seats upholstered in what Ford calls a durable and grippy “technical suede”, while Raptor embroidery, blue stitching, various leather accents and a redesigned steering wheel with magnesium paddle shifters serve to further distinguish it from civilian Rangers.

Drivers will find a five-button switch on this steering wheel, allowing them to choose between various driving modes via the Raptor’s Terrain Management System.

The on-road modes are ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ while tougher terrain off the beaten track can be dealt with via ‘Grass/Gravel/Snow’, ‘Mud/Sand’, ‘Rock’ or ‘Baja’ modes. The latter, as its name implies, is for high-speed off-roading.

The Ranger Raptor will be built in South Africa at Ford’s Silverton plant east of Pretoria and it is expected to be released some time in 2019.

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