Ford Ranger Raptor off-road in Morocco

No Englishman would ever use the expression ‘badass’. It sounds about as genuine as Bert’s cockney accent in Mary Poppins. Moreover, anybody from the southern half of Britain would say ‘badarse’, which implies one thing else once more.

Not that Ford appears involved. ‘New badass Ford Ranger Raptor brings final off-road pick-up efficiency to Europe’ screamed the headline on its press launch. It’s all a tad transatlantic for my style: extra Dearborn than Dagenham.

Outsized and over right hereFord Ranger Raptor

Then once more, we Brits don’t actually ‘get’ pick-ups. The Ford F-Collection has been America’s best-selling car since 1986, however we desire issues compact and car-shaped. Vans, historically, are for tradesmen.

Nevertheless, that’s beginning to change. The UK has already embraced the SUV, and posher pick-ups similar to the brand new Toyota Hilux are muscling in on that market. The time feels proper for the Raptor to strike.

Mad canines and EnglishmenFord Ranger Raptor

My encounter with the Ranger Raptor received’t be on the leafy lanes of Hampshire (no, not the ‘New’ one), however the sun-scorched dunes of Morocco. If any atmosphere can push this ‘go-anywhere’ truck past its comfort-zone, it’s right here. After two days of utmost, maximum-attack off-roading, my very own comfort-zone could also be examined, too.

‘Mad canines and Englishmen exit within the noon solar’, stated Noel Coward. So be it.

Not coming to AmericaFord Ranger Raptor

Earlier than I check the boundaries of the Raptor’s long-travel suspension (and its air con), let’s delve into some particulars. That is the high-profile flagship of the Ranger, er, vary, priced at a not-inconsiderable £42,266 excluding VAT – or £50,719 for personal consumers.

Hermann Salenbauch, car line director for Ford Efficiency, confirmed the Raptor received’t be bought Stateside, partly as a result of it makes use of a diesel engine. Rumours counsel its successor – due in 2023 and more likely to pack a twin-turbo petrol V6 – shall be supplied in Ford’s house market, nonetheless.

Regular as she goesFord Ranger Raptor

Ford already sells the bigger F-150 Raptor pick-up in America, after all: powered by a brawny 450hp 3.5-litre V6.

The Ranger Raptor is considerably extra modest; its 2.0 twin-turbo diesel 4 serves up 213hp, plus 369lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm. Driving all 4 wheels by way of a 10-speed semi-auto gearbox, shared with the Mustang, it reaches 62mph in 10.5 seconds and 106mph flat-out.

Cross-country runnerFord Ranger Raptor

In case you suppose acceleration on par with a middling Ford Focus stretches the definition of ‘efficiency’ (and certainly ‘badass’), you’d be proper. The Raptor won’t ever out-drag a Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 or Jaguar F-Tempo SVR from the lights.

Relating to tough terrain, although – the type that makes the floor of the moon look hospitable – it’s nearly the ultimate. The place gaudy SUVs kerb their 21-inch alloys then promptly admit defeat, the last word Ranger, like a cartoon superhero, blasts gleefully into the space.

Some Fox informationFord Ranger Raptor

Key to the Ford’s cross-country tempo are race-bred Fox shock absorbers, which permit 32 p.c extra journey on the entrance and 18 p.c on the rear. They’re supported by powerful aluminium management arms and bespoke Watt’s linkage rear suspension, together with a bolstered metal chassis body.

Brakes are additionally beefed-up, with twin-piston entrance calipers and rear discs (the place the usual Ranger has drums).

Wider, taller, harderFord Ranger Raptor

Hanging on that {hardware} are 8.5 x 17-inch wheels, plus 285/70 R17 BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres specifically developed for the Raptor.

It has a 150mm wider monitor and rides 51mm greater than normal, giving 283mm whole floor clearance and a 850mm wading depth. Strategy and departure angles are 32.5 levels and 24 levels respectively.

Rock in MarocFord Ranger Raptor

So, sufficient stats: time to get behind the wheel. My journey begins in Essaouira, a walled harbour and UNESCO World Heritage Website on the North Atlantic coast.

Again within the 60s and 70s, it was a haven for tripped-out hippies and musicians, together with Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. An ‘acceptable’ in-car playlist has already been downloaded, I’m informed. Let’s rock.

Acquired the BluesFord Ranger Raptor

My Raptor is signature Ford Efficiency Blue, however you can even select Conquer Gray, Shadow Black, Frozen White and Colorado Purple. Both approach, it appears to be like superior: unabashedly uncouth and refined as a Mike Tyson uppercut.

Just like the F-150 model, there’s no blue oval on the entrance grille, simply widescreen F-O-R-D lettering between the xenon headlights and steroid-pumped entrance wings. You’ve gotta love the jagged Raptor brand, too; it’s pure comic-book cool.

Stomach of the beastFord Ranger Raptor

Inside, it’s extra typical. Sports activities seats with Raptor logos, blue stitching and a pink centre marker on the steering wheel are the principle clues you’re driving one thing particular. Ford additionally flags up the ‘light-weight racing-style paddle shifters’, though they appear a token gesture in a 2,510kg truck.

All Raptors are double-cabs, providing house for 5 adults and a 1,743mm by 1,560mm loadbed. Normal package contains Ford’s Sync 3 touchscreen media system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.

Give peace an opportunityFord Ranger Raptor

I press the ability button and the stereo kicks into Steppenwolf’s ode to the open freeway, Born to be Wild. An auspicious begin.

Sadly, the subsequent monitor, The Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, is extra apt for the roads round Essaouira, that are filled with historical Peugeot taxis, overloaded donkeys and reckless stray canines. If all these hippies sought peace, they absolutely didn’t discover it right here.

Trip like a millionaireFord Ranger Raptor

Nonetheless, the Ranger is properly suited to city journey. Its lofty driving place provides very good visibility, whereas the tall tyres and loose-limbed suspension dispatch potholes, highway particles and slow-witted canines (solely joking, animal lovers!) with a nonchalant shrug. You’ll be able to “journey like a millionaire”, says chief program engineer Damien Ross. Effectively, one thing like that.

The muscular diesel pulls lustily from low revs and gearshifts are easy, regardless of the various ratios the ’field must juggle. These bulkier bumpers present helpful additional safety, too.

Child’s obtained the bendsFord Ranger Raptor

Site visitors swiftly evaporates as I head south, previous crumbling cafes and the odd bemused camel. Right here, on writhing roads carved into the rocky panorama, the Raptor may be hustled alongside at stunning pace. There’s no scarcity of body-roll and grip is in the end restricted by tyres groovier than Hendrix himself, however lucid steering and pliant damping make for an enticing drive.

It additionally sounds higher you may count on: gruff and purposeful, with only a trace of V8 muscle automotive. I cease for pictures in a small village and a gaggle of kids swarms across the truck. Judging by all of the thumbs-up, they approve.

Roads? We don’t want roads…Ford Ranger Raptor

After some time, tarmac turns to gravel, then the route turns into little greater than a sandy monitor. The solar is fiercely intense now, too – even the cacti look parched. Out right here with out water or a cell phone, you may final a number of hours.

Being a lily-livered journalist, I’m travelling with a back-up crew of Ford technicians shut at hand. For true trailblazers, although, the sat-nav has a ‘breadcrumb’ function to retrace your tracks throughout uncharted areas.

Born within the BajaFord Ranger Raptor

The Raptor’s Terrain Administration System has six modes: Regular, Sport, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rocks and Baja. Chosen by way of a button the steering wheel, every adjusts the four-wheel-drive, traction and stability techniques to swimsuit the situations.

Baja mode – named after Mexico’s Baja California desert, a mecca for off-road racing – is probably the most excessive, deactivating stability management for ‘most thrills’.

For these about to rockFord Ranger Raptor

The coastal dunes and Ford’s devoted ‘Baja playground’ lie forward, however they’re the opposite aspect of a barren, boulder-strewn valley. Frankly, it appears to be like treacherous on foot, not to mention by truck. I swap into Rock mode, choose low-range and gingerly start the descent.

Pitching forwards and backwards whereas concurrently lolling back and forth, I’m getting a core exercise equal to something I’ve managed on the health club – and all at lower than 5mph.

Up the creek with a paddleFord Ranger Raptor

Choosing the right path is significant right here, and my eyes consistently dart to the subsequent razor-sharp rock, ready for a deflating hiss that by no means comes. Blimey, these tyres are powerful.

Rock mode holds onto first gear, however I exploit the lengthy, tactile paddles to shift up because the seashore looms into view and rocks flip steadily to sand. That is terrain even a Hilux would baulk at, but the Raptor makes it look simple. Nonetheless, the hardest half is but to come back…

Tea and sympathyFord Ranger Raptor

Arriving at our makeshift camp, I gulp candy Moroccan tea and watch the waves roll in. A few camels are belching contentedly close by, subsequent to a steel sculpture of a velociraptor. In actuality, the Raptor is known as after an American navy airplane, not the predator from Jurassic Park, however I’ll let it cross.

There’s a powerful sea breeze right here – Essaouira is the windiest metropolis in Africa and fashionable with surfers – and I can nearly see the dunes forward shifting. “We take totally different routes each time,” explains our information. “The sand all the time modifications form; it by no means stays nonetheless.” I climb again into the Ranger and put together for take-off.

Velocity RaptorFord Ranger Raptor

Go! With Baja mode engaged, I gun the engine and head straight for the dunes. A rooster tail erupts from the rear wheels because the rev counter leaps upwards like a pinball flipper. The Raptor bounces over a hidden hump and thumps down into knee-deep ruts, the steering wheel squirming in my arms as I combat to remain on-course. I then make the error of turning too laborious and lurch right into a lurid tail-slide.

The temptation is just too again off, however I can really feel the unfastened sand clawing on the tyres. Out right here, it’s go laborious or go house.

Fly me to the duneFord Ranger Raptor

The adrenalin rush is absolute: plodding alongside a Welsh inexperienced lane won’t ever really feel the identical once more. A number of occasions I’m positive the Raptor will bathroom down or bottom-out, however it all the time appears to muster sufficient axle articulation – and sufficient grip – to take care of momentum.

The diesel engine is consistently close to the redline and I believe gasoline financial system is taking a beating on par with these Fox shocks (the official determine is 31.7mpg). Nonetheless as Damien Ross factors out: “You could possibly journey quite a bit additional throughout the desert with out refueling than a petroleum V8”.

Slalom on the sandFord Ranger Raptor

For the ultimate leg of the route, I be a part of a small convoy of different journalists. We head north alongside the broad, flat seashore, passing tiny shacks produced from branches, blankets and discarded garbage. Confronted by such poverty, driving a £50,000 truck appears borderline anti-social, however the locals haven’t any such qualms: they merely grin and gesture us to go sooner.

The sight of 4 Raptors forward, sliding in synchronised slalom throughout the damp sand, is one I received’t overlook anytime quickly.

Getting excessiveFord Ranger Raptor

One final problem lies forward: a full-on, four-wheels-in-the-air soar over a dune. The others have gone first and, by now, I’ve turn into nearly blasé concerning the Raptor’s functionality.

Even so, there’s a quick second – perhaps two seconds – of doubt as I’m suspended above the sand. The calm earlier than the… wuumpf! The entrance wheels make contact first, then the rears land with a quick bounce and that’s it. No drama, only one badass soar. Even when I do say so myself.

Neglect that FerrariFord Ranger Raptor

In the appropriate atmosphere, this pumped-up pick-up is as thrilling as any supercar. And sure, there may be nowhere in Britain you’ll be able to drive like this, however that doesn’t cease me wanting one.

So, overlook that Ferrari, purchase the Ford and spend the cash you saved on transport prices to Morocco or Baja. You’ll by no means expertise driving fairly prefer it.


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