Ford’s new Ranger Raptor Special Edition is expensive, but it offers plenty of character
3.5 out of 5
It’s hard to recommend the Raptor in any rational way, because it simply isn’t that kind of vehicle. It’s a pick-up for someone who would otherwise look at left-field choices like a Mustang, or any of the usual premium mid-sized SUVs. It looks expensive, too – but those who are swayed by the blend of huge size, decent practicality and sheer road presence are unlikely to be put off by this.
We’re big fans of the Ford Ranger at Auto Express; it’s practical, versatile, well priced, supported by a huge dealer network, and good enough to bridge that line between being a workhorse and a family vehicle.
But at the higher end of its range there’s the Raptor, a jacked-up and widened version of the pick-up that’s really designed for those who want to be seen. It takes cues from the US-market F-150 Raptor and you can think of it, in fact, as a little slice of Americana – a bit like that V8 Mustang that you see occasionally in your local Sainsbury’s car park, but longer, taller and with a 2.0-litre diesel engine.
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Of course, the regular Raptor gets trick suspension and enormous off-road tyres, to allow it to live up to its rugged looks. But it’s certainly not an obvious choice for business users – not least because its load capacity is only 620kg (less than all other Rangers), so it’s not eligible for VAT exemption. And that means that it costs around 50 grand.
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Even so, Ford thinks it’s worth cranking up the volume just a little higher to help extend the Ranger Raptor’s life – at least until a new Ranger, developed in conjunction with VW, arrives in 2023. Here, then, is the Ranger Raptor Special Edition – which brings graphics, black and red stitching on an upgraded seat fabric, and a black finish on everything from the front grille and sports bar to the bespoke alloy wheels.
It has presence, this thing – though perhaps only Raptor aficionados will be able to see beyond the jaw-dropping width and height of the beefed-up Ranger to notice the styling tweaks. Ford clearly thinks it’ll mean something to someone, because it is charging a full £54,085 for the privilege.
There are no changes to speak of mechanically, though, which means that on the road, the Special Edition feels just like a conventional Raptor. That’s generally a good thing, because the steering is consistently weighted and direct, and the bespoke suspension strikes a good balance between comfort and body control. It’s a wholly more sophisticated arrangement than a conventional pick-up’s, in fact, so you don’t feel the usual shudder that comes with leaf springs.
The engine is just about up to the task, although you can’t help feeling that the V6 diesel motor that’s expected to form part of the forthcoming Ranger’s line-up will deliver levels of punch more appropriate to what is, in many ways, the Focus RS of Ford’s pick-up family. The four-cylinder motor here has 210bhp and 500Nm of torque – enough for a 0-62mph time of nine seconds and a top speed of 112mph.
At a cruise, the Ranger Raptor feels relatively comfortable with life; you’ll hear a bit of road noise from the chunky tyres and wind rush generated by the bluff styling more than any grumble from under the bonnet. The gearbox – a 10-speed automatic – can generally be relied upon to make smooth, intelligent shifts.
Any request for more immediate performance – a sudden kickdown or putting the transmission in manual mode and using the steering wheel-mounted paddles – is greeted by a vocal reminder that you are in a diesel commercial vehicle, even if you don’t have a load aboard. It seems strange to say this, but if anything, the chassis is probably more up for an involving B-road than the powertrain. Go figure.
Around town, there’s no getting away from the scale of the vehicle you’re travelling in – although the elevated seating position gives you an excellent view out of the front and the the squared-off edges mean that it’s surprisingly easy to judge where it begins and ends – handy in small spaces or the aforementioned supermarket car park. The door apertures are impressively wide too, so if you’ve got enough space around your vehicle, it’s easy enough to climb in and out of it.
Inside, the Raptor’s cabin feels a notch above the regular pick-up class, with car-like materials in the key areas and harsher, probably more durable plastics elsewhere. It’s certainly a comfortable enough place for longer journeys, with supportive seats and plenty of onboard tech, including a crisp eight-inch touchscreen featuring Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system.
|Model:||Ford Ranger Raptor Special Edition|
|Price:||£54,085 (inc VAT)|
|Engine:||2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel|
|Transmission:||10-speed auto, four-wheel drive|
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