In the world of double cab bakkies, there is none (in SA) bigger than Ford’s Ranger Raptor. It’s a monstrous thing with dimensions that exclude it from any normal-sized garage. Ok, sure, the competition doesn’t quite fit either, but if you were to own a competitor bakkie that only just squeezes into your garage, upgrading to a Ranger Raptor would see you needing home renovations to accommodate. In the double cabs I’ve reviewed before, I’ve always mentioned that I’m only ever a fan of these when driving them. Puttering around in my car I bitch and moan about double cab drivers on the highways because the majority (how’s that for a generalisation?) of them drive like twats, but when I’m behind the wheel of one I automatically subscribe to the “when in Rome” way of thinking - that's King Twat to you!. So I either have a problem with big bakkies, or I’m the problem in a big bakkie. You see, you can’t help it, when you’re in such a big beast of a thing it feels fantastic and your manners are quickly forgotten. “What? You dare to try take a that gap in front on me? In that pathetic attempt at transportation? Stay in your lane, inferior being” is pretty much where my thought process goes, and generalising again, it’s probably like that for all big bakkie drivers.
I’ve mentioned that it’s the biggest double cab out there, but I think it’s also the best looking. I’m not picking on the others, they all really do look good for the most part, just not this good. The Ranger Raptor is a top-of-the-line Wildtrak under the skin, but with select changes and all the right curves in all the right places, it’s immediately distinguishable from the Wildtrak. Head on, the first thing that should draw your eyes in is the massive FORD in the centre of the grille. We’ve seen similar aftermarket grilles fitted to other Rangers before, but this OEM piece is just better. I think the fact that it’s flanked by widened fenders helps too, it’s an evil-looking thing, it makes sense why small hatchbacks and single cab bakkies scramble out of the way. In total the Raptor is a good 168mm wider at 2028mm with the wheel track 150mm wider, it's 44mm longer and 22mm higher. The front bumper is different with a spaced fitment that adds to the perception of a bigger overall size, and having it in black instead of being body-coloured just works, no matter the body colour. The bash plate is again a different colour, this time silver, making for a three-way contrast which makes for proper bakkie eye candy. Round back the taillights have a unique design and the badging is a few font sizes bigger. Just below the integrated rear bumper you’ll notice there’s now dual tow hooks, which just looks badass.
The side profile is just brilliant, and the signature Raptor stickers work well. In fact I spotted a Performance Blue Raptor minus stickers the other day and it just looks wrong. Subjective of course, but also, I’m right and you should just accept it. There’s 17-inch wheels that are finished in a satin black, again this works perfectly no matter the shade of exterior paint. They’re wrapped in some chunky 33-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain rubber, adding to that bad-ass look. There’s a sizeable fender gap, which is thanks to the Raptor’s party trick – Fox Racing suspension. This not only raises the body by 50mm, it affords the thing some mind-blowing off-road capability with 283mm of ground clearance. Not in the sense of traversing obstacles, although in the slower technical bits it is massively capable of course. I’m talking switching the electronic drive mode to BAJA, activating all-wheel drive and crossing flat-is off-road stretches at silly speeds. If you haven’t seen any of the testing of this thing on YouTube, you have to. It’s so much fun, and with the power on tap long sweeping 4-wheel drifts are controllable and instantly addictive. Or so I’ve been told…
The cabin is more like something you’d expect in an RS streetcar, there’s absolutely awesome leather and alcantara Recaro race seats, a leather trimmed dash, a chunky leather-bound sports steering wheel, paddle shifters and brushed aluminium accents splashed around the cabin. The instrument cluster shows all the usual info, it does have a sporty look to it too. The 8-inch touchscreen heading up the infotainment system uses Ford’s Sync 3 system, which has always been a favourite thanks to its intuitive ease of use and an abundance of functions and features. The sound system bangs, and somehow it’s quite fitting having it blare my Country Rock playlist while kicking down dirt roads in a Ranger Raptor. All that’s missing is a Stetson, unless my wife is sitting shotgun because she’s always wearing one. There’s ample space front and rear, a compliment of 6-footers will be right at home and not even touch elbows. The Recaro seats are probably the most comfortable I’ve been in, they’re a little wider than usual, likely in anticipation of some of the homegrown farmer types who are usually built on a bigger chassis than us city boys. Tell me that Tim McGraw's Truck Yeah doesn't work in a Ranger Raptor, and I'll call you a liar.
Powering the Ford Ranger Raptor is something most don’t expect, and many hardcore fans don’t agree with. Based on looks alone, you’d think the Ranger Raptor would share the Mustang’s 5.0-litre Coyote V8, the Shelby’s 5.2-litre Voodoo V8 or in a perfect world, the GT500’s 5.2-litre Predator V8. Instead we find four less cylinders and an addiction to diesel fuel. It’s sort of like meeting a 6ft7, 250kg MMA fighter with a tenor voice. So continue my analogy, it’s purely in the voice because said 250kg MMA fighter will be able to pull your arm off and beat you with the wet end, no matter what tone of voice he has. While the diesel powerplant in the Ranger Raptor measures in with a mere 2.0-litres in capacity, it does happen to have a pair of turbochargers attached making some magick, the result being a decent 157kW of power with a massive 500Nm of torque. Them’s good numbers, and with that torque kicking in at just 1500rpm it makes for a fun drive. Mated to this powerplant we find a new 10-speed auto transmission. It’s brilliant, smooth as silk and it doesn’t ever hunt for the right gear no matter what drive mode you select in the Terrain Management System. I do think, and you’d have to check with some more technical people, that there’s some sort of torque limiter built in because all those Newtons don’t seem to kick in off the line when you mash the loud pedal. Lining up against more than one VW Amarok more than once, the Raptor ended up playing catch-up being out-launched from the get-go. Against the same Amaroks while rolling from 100km/h, the Raptor seems to be a much stronger beast and it quickly put the VWs on the back foot - you can definitely feel that torque in your butt dyno. Fuel consumption is rated at 8.7-litres/100km, which is great for a massive thing like the Raptor, except that even on a 200km trip with cruise control set to 125km/h the best figures returned (according to the on-board system), was 11.2-litres/100km. When showing the aforementioned Amarok how nice the Raptor tailgate looks, that figure pretty much doubled. But you know what? I didn’t care. Like the Mustang, I ended up spending two months' petrol budget on this thing in a week, the smiles were well worth it.
The price tag for the Ranger Raptor is high, you’re looking at paying closer to the R900k mark now, and adding in finance and all those fun fees, this going to be well over a bar by the time you’ve paid the bank back. That’s a big chunk of change, especially in the strange times we find ourselves in. There’s plenty awesome cars and bakkies to be had for that price, but if I had the opportunity, I reckon I’d still have me a Ranger Raptor if I was keen on making a big statement. Like the Mustang, this thing makes you feel like a boss no matter if you’re on a sand road, off road, in the veld, on the tar or in the local Spar's parking lot. I think also having it being locally produced is just brilliant and adds plenty braai-time talking points. I initially thought that Ford Performance Blue is the ultimate colour for one of these, but Colorado Red, Frozen White and Shadow Black look just as mean. After seeing one in the metal, my lotto winnings would be best spent on a Conquer Grey Raptor – I don’t think it’s possible to have a cooler factory double cab. If a V8 version does happen one day, that would be pretty cool, but I quite like this one just the way it is. For more info, head on over to www.ford.co.za, or click on the .pdf at the end of the article.
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