The Raptor slid wildly sideways, General Grabber’s all-terrain tires hurling lumps of mud into the sky. It straightened out in an instant, then I took a breath, started the engine and accelerated towards the incline.
With an aggressive roar, the truck picked up speed and the widescreen FORD grille pointed upwards. There’s a second of a dreamy hanging animation as the wheel hangs in the air, then a wake-up crash as the Fox race damper absorbs the landing. Phew. Keep calm and walk.
Many pick-ups can be off-road with the right rubber, of course. But the Raptor’s ability to traverse rough terrain at high speed is unmatched. On a rollercoaster dirt circuit meant for motocross racing, it feels unstoppable.
bad means good
The launch of the original Ranger Raptor took place in Morocco in 2019. In the hot sun, we hopped over desert dunes, glided along deserted beaches and ended the day on camel rides.
This time, I was in central Wales, we replaced the sand with mud, and there was steady drizzle. Also, the only animals present were the confused flock of sheep. Covid’s travel restrictions have many answers.
However, this new Special Edition version of Ford’s ‘badass truck’ (their word, not mine) looks more extroverted than ever. For £54,086 – a modest £900 more than the regular Raptor – you get front-to-rear racing stripes, 17-inch black alloy wheels, red recovery hooks and jazzier interior trim.
Whether in downtown Marrakesh or Merthyr Tydfil, you can’t go unnoticed.
Dress for success
The flagship Raptor isn’t the only model getting the makeover. Indeed, with the new Ranger due in 2023 (expect all-American styling and 3.0-liter V6 engine options), the entire line-up has been reworked.
New additions to the Ranger, uh, range include the Wolftrak, a ‘no-nonsense’ truck aimed at ‘customers in the agriculture, forestry and outdoor pursuit industries’, the luxurious Stormtrak and the sporty MS-RT – the latter with side skirts. , faux carbon fiber trim and 20-inch OZ Racing alloy wheels.
Ford hopes the new model range will cement the Ranger’s dominant position as the UK’s best-selling pick-up. “We have about 40 percent of the market and are targeting 50 percent,” said PR boss John Gardiner.
Fun for family
Some would argue that the Raptor’s 213hp 2.0 diesel engine is its weakness. After all, the US-market Ford F-150 Raptor is getting a 450hp 3.5 V6 petrol engine – and there’s also a Shelby Mustang-powered V8 version in the works.
In fact, the payload capacity is just 545kg, compared to around 1,100kg for the other Rangers, most of which holds the Raptor. Being unable to carry a ton means it is not classified as a commercial vehicle, so business users cannot discount VAT. For many pick-up buyers, that means a nearly £17,000 increase in price compared to a Stormtrak with the same engine.
Then again, the Raptor was never a rational choice. Think of it as a fun vehicle (a more versatile and family-friendly alternative to a £50,000 sports car, perhaps) and its flaws are easier to overlook.
It’s certainly cooler than most performance SUVs – and much more capable, too.
Hasta la vista
That ability was demonstrated time and time again in Wales, along the gridiron, in the muddy mines, and on the motocross track. With a ground clearance of 283mm, wading depth of 850mm and great approach and departure angles, the Raptor is like a Terminator: it really just won’t stop.
At times, the contrast between the brutal terrain and torrential rain outside, and my surroundings inside – soothed by heated chairs and listening to podcasts – seemed almost surreal. Surely off-road doesn’t have to be this comfortable?
Maybe that’s why Ford saved the stunt until the end. Because the Raptor is best when pushed beyond your comfort zone. Two years on, still nothing like it.
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Model: Ford Ranger Raptor SE
Price from: £54,086
Machine: 4 cylinder 2.0 liter turbodiesel
Fuel type: diesel
Gearboxes: 10 speed auto
Power: 213 hp
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Fuel economy: 26.4 mpg
CO2: 277 g/km
Dimension(l/w/h): 5,398/2,028/1,873 mm
Guarantee: 3 years / 60,000 miles