And so the inexorable rise of the SUV continues.
It is not just big chunky ones that are unstoppable – we’ve tested a new Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes G-Class and will soon be in a Land Rover Defender later this year – but these days there’s about an evens chance that your family car is one, too.
But it goes on. There are already performance passenger SUVs and now this: the pick-up made into a sports car, the Ford Ranger Raptor. In the US, Ford has sold an F-150 truck with Raptor badging for a while. It has an oversized, overpowered engine and is ‘how to really tick off the fun police’, according to the advertisements.
Like RS or ST, though, the Raptor range is broadening, under the Ford Performance umbrella, so that it encompasses the smaller – by pick-up standards – Ranger for the first time. Between the F-150 and Ranger, there are common Raptor themes – chunky bodywork extensions, equally bulbous BF Goodrich boots and huge chassis modifications, which we’ll explore more later.
But whereas the US-spec F-150 Raptor gives top billing to its engine, a 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6 making 450bhp and 510lb ft of torque, the Ranger – whose biggest markets are Europe and Australia but will make its US debut soon – has a more restrained powertrain, a 2.0-litre diesel, albeit a new unit with two turbochargers.
The mix of heady engineering exercises in some directions but not others is typical of the schismatic nature of the Raptor: it’s a Ford Performance vehicle but its 0-60mph time is more than 10sec; and pick-ups are popular because of a payload that makes them commercial vehicles, yet the Raptor’s payload is so reduced that it’s no longer VAT reclaimable.
They’re oddities that the Raptor will need to convince us don’t matter. Does it have what it takes?
The Ford Ranger line-up at a glance
Considering the high asking price, it’s surprising the Raptor doesn’t get the biggest engine in the range. That engine is the old 3.2-litre Duratorq diesel found in the high-spec Wildtrak Ranger. Meanwhile, the entry-level Ranger – the XL Regular Cab – gets a single-turbo 128bhp version of the Raptor’s twin-turbo diesel.