When the new Ranger Raptor was launched, the headlines were on the 292kW 3.0-litre Turbo V6 petrol which make it the most powerful production bakkie on the Mzansi market. We spent a week with the Raptor to find out if there is more to the car than the headline power figures.
The test unit came in the orange colour and this stands out from the crowd drawing admiring glances. There were comments that it has lost its aggression uniqueness vs the Wildtrak when one considers that previous model was instantly recognisable as a Raptor vs its Wildtrak at the time.
The bold front with the very effective multi beam LED Matrix headlamps moves anything from the fast lane. On the headlights, night driving was a breeze with the LED lights constantly illuminating dark spots without dazzling oncoming traffic.
The all-terrain tyres were excellent in off-road and gravel terrain but on road, they proved hard negatively impacting the ride. When the tar road was slippery, they also proved a bit skittish but the 4Auto setting made it a non issue.
New owners who didn’t live with the previous version will find the side steps perfect but the previous Raptor had wider side steps which made entry and exit a breeze. Consider the height of the Raptor and this can be an issue when kids and old people gain entry.
The rear has the unimistakable twin tail pipes that hint at the performance and most importantly, the engine note. These tail pipes unfortunately don’t allow the very user friendly side steps to be included but trust me, once you start this beast, you won’t miss them at all…..more on that later. The lack of a standard roller shutter meant we couldn’t load stuff risk free when driving so to the owners, ensure you spec it from the dealer.
The lighting and the plug located on the load bin works best at night when loading or when needing to charge. Even though designed for work purposes, these charge points proved useful when chilling with friends who plugged cooler boxes on it.
The lack of a Wildtrak style roller bar at the back is an interesting commission from Ford. I suggested to one owner, they look at the Wildtrak X type roller as that’s more user friendly.
The interior is where the most impact will be felt by any person who owns a bakkie. The large infotainment screen dominates the cabin and its Tesla style set up makes any person feel tech luxury.
The installation of climate control buttons below the screen makes driving and operating quite easy (Amarok owner trust me, the on screen controls are a bit risky to operate on the move). The steering is chunky to hold however the lack of a phone down button on the steering controls proved frustrating when answering or dropping a Bluetooth call (XLT on test before had one). This is largely due to the Raptor specific button on the steering wheel which allows ease of controlling the exhaust, damping and the special R button where the owner can save their preferred settings for ease of activating.
The rotary switch between the seats allows easy control of the off road driving modes. On the move changes between 2H/4A/4H is a breeze with 4L needing one to stop, engage neutral to activate. The Sport, Muddy, Baja and other modes are accessible by using the toggle clockwise.
For the age of mobile connection, the on board wireless charger proved useful in day to day driving.
The Sports seats are unique to the Raptor and allow snug fit when driving. They come standard with heating function which aids cold weather starts. Rear seat passengers had enough leg room (not always the case with Sports front seats) and rear comfort was aided by the air vents for the rear passengers. Some of the finishes are ok for the normal Ranger but do feel below par for the +R1m Raptor, maybe a Platinum interior finish would be best.
The digital instrument cluster is a huge plus when compared to not only the previous Raptor but also current competition. It allows ease of access to info whether be driving or off road info.
Out on the road, the 292kW 3.0 V6 Turbo engine dominates the experience. Even though the ride could be more comfortable (we suspect due to the AT tyres), it’s still a pleasure to drive in. The 10 speed transmission is well matched to the engine and once you put the exhaust on Sport, it emits a sound that definitely makes everyone take note. The average 15.8l/100km does mean spending almost R2k on petrol gives you only 450km at best….ouch. We didn’t take it off-road but our experience of driving this model at launch in Namibia proved Ford has installed tech that allows anyone irrespective of skill to easily take the Raptor off road.
At the price of R1.184m, the Raptor is a bargain when one considers what it can do both onroad and off-road. The fuel consumption will likely stump many off their list but for those that can stomach it, its a beast worth owning.