You need a lot of bakkie to impress a bloke who transported heavy loads across southern Africa in lorries and big vans. I am such a bloke — and the Ford Raptor is such a bakkie.
Which is why the news from Ford about a Raptor Special Edition for South Africa is of special note. To keep the Special Edition special, Ford said it will build “limited numbers” at its plant bordered by, as it happens, Alwyn Street in Silverton, Tshwane.
The plant, which has been making protective face shields since the beginning of April, restarted in June and is catching up with orders for the normal Ranger, which are exported in their 1 000s from Gqeberha to Europe.
Which means the final number for the special Raptor is so limited it is not even stipulated as yet. The specialness boils down to a facelift in the form of new eye-catching decals and red accents, and an integrated sports hoop, but for the bin, there is now a practical Mountain Top lockable black roller shutter as standard.
But the Raptor is not about loading. Ford Performance developed the Raptor back in 2019, working from the wheels up to make a racer’s bakkie and “the ultimate Ranger model”.
An ultra-strong chassis, bespoke suspension and tyres and a Terrain Management System to support the thrill-seeking outdoor lifestyles of true off-road enthusiasts, deliver a bakkie that can almost keep up with the racing Rangers built for export by Neil Woolridge Motorsport in Maritzburg. This is thanks to that bespoke suspension which keeps the General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyres pressed firmly to the road, thanks to light aluminium double wishbones at the front and a multi-link rear architecture.
Drivers who need their bakkies for work will tell you that multi-link rear suspensions ain’t no good to carry loads, but drivers who like to put foot will affirm they are great for road holding. When it comes to grip, the secret sauce in the Raptor is the Fox shock absorbers with Position Sensitive Damping.
These four shocks, which these days will cost over R20k each, moderate damping forces in response to changing driving scenarios and all together, the suspension offers maximum grip on loose surfaces.
Under the hood, nothing has changed, with the Ranger Raptor Special Edition powered by Ford’s very impressive 2.0 litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine that makes 157 kW and 500 Nm, with the power transferred to all wheels via a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic gearbox shared with the Ford Mustang sports car.
Ford’s Terrain Management System further enables van drivers like this scribe to go faster than normal over sand, gravel or mud, with my favourite setting being Baja Mode, named after the Baja 1000 desert rally in Mexico.
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