CAR OF THE WEEK: Raptor a soon-to-be-forbidden pleasure

June 16th, 2023 10:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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IN recent times there was no difficulty directing deliveries or visitors to my home — ‘the house with the orange pick-up parked outside.’ The car in question was the latest version of Ford’s Ranger Raptor, a truly wicked edition of Europe’s best-selling pickup.

Apart from the times I could find excuses to rumble the Raptor around my home county, it sat high and mighty as a beacon for my address, making many a passer-by googgly-eyed – and stopping passing cars too. 

There was much to see apart from the Code Orange paintwork with perfectly gaudy Raptor decals. The massive BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tyres on black alloys, with a tread pattern that looked capable of gouging out new mountain valleys. The pumped suspension that made getting in a climb and getting out a jump, or careful balancing on the running board step. The all-black grilles with massive Ford name, bookended by the C-shape LED running lights and matrix headlamps. 

The dual tailpipes that seemed big enough to act as anti-tank rocket launchers. And the silver load-bed cover, conveniently power-operated by a keyfob button.

Those taking the opportunity to peer inside — or if they were lucky when I came out and were given the chance to properly view the interior — also had plenty of Raptor detail to view. 

Including Ford Performance seating with Code Orange detailing and the Raptor name on the bottom of the steering wheel, in case you forget what you’re in. The large central screen that isn’t as big as in the Mustang Mach-E because, blessedly, there are real knobs under it for climate control. 

Swanky seats in the rear of the double cab with their own unabashed Code Orange inserts.

All in all, a lot to take in even while the Ranger Raptor was still stationary and not switched on. 

Before moving it, and the reluctantly-leaving onlookers, on I lifted the bonnet to show where the power lay. 

The 3.0 V6 revealed its gloriously complicated, even untidy plumbing, unlike so many high-powered cars today where magnificent engines are covered under a streamlining plastic barrier. 

And, of course, the Raptors was worthy of long gazes when the increasing number of electric cars have nothing mesmerising to see.

There’s no hybridised electric ‘ready’ start-up here. Press the button and a real petrol engine rumbles into life. 

To be savoured, as such powertrains are heading into the waiting room for their journey to be things of the past. 

Though this is a relatively new V6 from Ford’s EcoBoost range, so it’s likely to be around for a while yet. 

With a tad under 300hp to be managed, the 10-speed automatic gearbox has been tweaked to provide performance shifts both on and off road. 

No problem to it — the version of the engine used in Australia, where the Ranger Raptor was developed by Ford Performance, pumps out 100hp more.

There’s a surprisingly V8-like burble from the engine at idle, in the ‘normal’ mode that comes along with the other exhaust sounds of quiet, sport and baja. 

That last is bounce-off-the-wall raucous which, out of consideration for my neighbours and not wanting to drive through town in show-off mode, I tried just once on a quiet part of the Curragh plains. Even some normally unimpressible grazing sheep raised their heads in alarm ....

There’s performance potential here that changes with geographical location. In markets like Australia and South Africa, the extra power gives a sub-6 seconds 0-100km/h, the detuned European version accelerates more slowly by a couple of  seconds. 

But this is a pick-up, and supercar take-off is not the name of the game. Still, Ranger Raptor 2023 in Euro form is peppy. 

The car also proved an unexpectedly civilised around-town and country roads motor. 

Not having a Baja California desert playground in my area, I have to take the maker’s word for the Raptor’s extreme terrain ability. Though I did drive its predecessor under very tough conditions in Morocco, and it more than coped.

Bumbling around Ireland in an unreconstructed big V6 petrol pickup is going to be an expensive experience, and my average consumption of 12.4L/100km showed that shamelessly. 

But for those of us who have grown up with the internal combustion engine in many sizes and guises, my time with the new Ranger Raptor was an ‘Aahhh, yes!’ experience. One to be savoured because there might not be that many more of them. In truth, this review car is off-the-wall for today, but some soon-to-be-forbidden pleasures must be taken while we can. 

For real world use, or when the conscience trips in, there is a 2.0 diesel version to be had. Ah, well.

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