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Raptor claws grasp high-end pickup market

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Pricey truck earns its status with impressive engineering, offers race-ready cross-country design

The mighty Ford Ranger Raptor is definitely the most talked about pickup truck in Thailand this year.

I said “mighty” because the Raptor, priced at Bt1.699 million, is also currently the most expensive pickup made and sold in Thailand, and probably the best one too.

Development of the Ranger Raptor was approved by Ford executives after the tremendous success the American automaker had with its F-150 Raptor pickup truck sold in the United States. Other major automakers, including Toyota and Isuzu, lack interest in the small upper-end pickup market as they already own the major share in this extremely competitive segment.

While the Japanese offer special models that come with cool features and add-ons (such as the Hilux Revo Rocco), there’s not much to boast about their engineering. The Raptor, on the other hand, gets big tweaks and upgrades, turning it into a race-ready cross-country vehicle.

Everyone who has driven the Raptor agrees that it is the top pickup model ever produced in this country, but is it really worth the money? Well, that depends.

Some argue that you would spend less money customising a standard Ranger into something like the Raptor with matching performance. That might be true, but then you would lose the warranty.

Meanwhile, the Raptor may appear pricey, but the truck comes with a full warranty from Ford. And that’s something that would benefit the customer, despite Ford’s poor image in terms of warranty claims.

On Friday, Ford Sales and Service Thailand Co Ltd was ordered by the Thai court to pay compensation to 296 Fiesta and Focus customers, ranging from Bt15,000 to Bt240,000 per person, for the faulty Powershift transmission. The total amount is over Bt24.7 million. This follows the AUS $10 million fine slapped on Ford in Australia earlier this year for “unconscionable conduct” in the way it treated customers for the same Powershift gearbox case. Over 10,000 customers were affected in Australia.

Nevertheless, future problems are not something one can predict, and let’s hope that the Raptor doesn’t fall into the same pattern. I do hope so, as the four-day encounter with the Raptor turned out to be a highly positive experience.

No, I didn’t take it to a cross-country track and perform jumps and slides like those who went to the Raptor test-drive events in Australia and Thailand. Instead, I just used it like an ordinary truck in Bangkok in everyday driving.

The first thing that I loved about the Raptor was its presence on the road. It is wider than a standard Ranger and gets the large “FORD” logo on the front grille. The fenders are also much wider with larger wheel arches, instantly giving it a cross-country racer look, especially with those matching all-terrain tires. The side step rails on both sides have holes that allow sand and dirt to travel through, so no dirt build-up when going cross-country.

There’s a 2.3mm bash plate under the engine, while the bumpers have been redesigned to provide a better approach and departure angle. The track is wider than the standard version.

Towards the rear end, there are also special decals to enhance the sporty character of the Raptor and distinguish it from the other Ranger models (like the Wild Trak).

The interior also gets special treatment. The truck I borrowed from distributor Ford Thailand came with sporty seats with Alcantara leather, blue stitching and the latest FORD SYNC 3 infotainment system. There’s also a special Raptor multifunctional steering wheel and sports instrument panel.

The Raptor is powered by a new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine that’s also offered in the Ranger. Maximum power and torque is claimed at 213hp and 500Nm.

Apart from the wider track and increased ride height, Raptor also gets upgraded suspension components including FOX shock absorbers to improve ride and handling. The Watts link rear set-up also contributes to improved cornering performance. There’s just a slight hint that this is a pickup suspension, not an SUV, when going over deep potholes or speed bumps.

There’s also a Terrain Management System (TMS) that offers six driving modes, including the BAJA cross-country mode. There are two recovery hooks up front, and disc brakes all-round.

I loved the suspension set-up of the Raptor – you can easily feel the difference in terms of ride quality over the standard model. However, I felt that the all-terrain tires on the 17-inch rims are more suited to slippery gravel roads rather than smooth highways. There’s more noise from the tires when driven on smooth roads, and at high speeds it starts to feel jiggly compared to normal road tires.

That’s the only thing I didn’t fancy in the Raptor, which means that it’s near perfect. While the price may be high for a pickup truck, there are plenty of people who are willing to place an order for the Raptor as there is no competition in the market.

 

Ford Ranger Raptor specs

Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve bi-turbo diesel

Displacement: 1,996cc

Bore and stroke: 84x90mm

Compression ratio: 16.0:1

Max power: 213ps/3,750rpm

Max torque: 500Nm/1,750-2,000rpm

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Ratios: 4.696/2.985/2.146/1.769/1.520/1.275/1.000/0.854/0.689/0.636

Final drive ratio: 3.73

0-100kmh: 10.5 secs

Top speed: 170

Average fuel economy: 12.1 km/litre

Average CO2: 212 g/km

Suspension (f/r): McPherson strut/Watts Link

Steering: powered rack-and-pinion

Turning circle: 12.9 metres

Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc

Dimensions (mm)

Length: 5,398

Width: 2,028

Height: 1,873

Wheelbase: 3,220

Track (f/r): 1,710/1,710

Ground clearance: 283

Approach angle: 32.5 degrees

Brakeover angle: 24 degrees

Departure angle: 24 degrees

Weight: 2,324 kgs

Wheels: 17-in alloys

Tires: 285/70 (all-terrain)

Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres

Price: Bt1.699 million

Distributor: Ford Thailand Co Ltd

Published : September 20, 2018

By : Kingsley Wijayasinha The Nation