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No rest for our Raptor - 20th November 2019
No sooner had it arrived than we’d put the Raptor to good use. First off was an off-road video to see how it stacked up against a Bowler Bulldog on some of Wales’s harsher, publicly accessible tracks. Then, grit still clinging to its sills, it was pushed into photo and support-car action in our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car feature. A useful animal, this Raptor.
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Life with a Ford Ranger Raptor: Month 1
Welcoming the Ranger Raptor to the fleet - 13th November 2019
If all the things to like about the Ford Ranger Raptor, it’s the least seen that is the most impressive. So you keep having to explain.
Explain that, yes, this is a Raptor. And no, it’s not that quick in a straight line. And yes, it is expensive. And yes, it does have a 2.0-litre diesel, not a powerful turbocharged petrol V6. But that, honestly, you just need to get it onto the right track and then it’s brilliant.
In its ethos, the Raptor isn’t like other double-cab pick-ups. It’s more like a supercar, in that it has capabilities that you rarely get the chance to fully explore. So over the next few months we’ll try to find its limits. Double-cab pick-ups tend to be versatile, do-everything vehicles that can seat five yet have a one-tonne plus load bay, which, in the UK, gives them van tax status. The Raptor throws some of those do-everything elements out. It was developed by Ford Australia to basically pound rough tracks into submission, and to heck with being a commercial vehicle.
You have to see a Raptor’s bare chassis to fully appreciate just what Ford did to it: how the front end is stiffened to withstand Baja-style rally-raid impacts, while the rear end has been completely redesigned and fabricated to accommodate coil springs that have a lighter unsprung weight and far quicker responses than the leaf springs that Rangers, like most other pick-ups, otherwise come with.
And then there are the dampers from off-road specialist Fox, which is like “a candy store for dynamics engineers”, says Simon Johnson, the Ranger Raptor’s lead dynamics engineer.
Forgive me if I go off on a dive into these. The most notable part of them, if I understand it right, is bypass valves in the middle of the dampers’ travel. So there’s firm initial damping, then quite a soft phase in which the valves are letting oil bypass the plunger, so it’s riding easily and comfortably, and is apparently a phase you drive in quite often. Then the damping force ramps up again towards the end of travel, after the piston has moved beyond the bypass valves. Ultimately, it’s a bit like a soft-close drawer – easy travelling but shove it as hard as you like and it’ll never slam shut.