It's here: the new Ford Ranger Raptor lands in NZ for Fieldays debut
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The first of Ford's hotted-up Ranger Raptors — the first of the blue oval's dino-fied pick-ups to be sold new in New Zealand — has arrived in New Zealand ahead of next week's Fieldays event.
Ford invited the media to poke around the Raptor earlier today at Advanced Flight in Onehunga; the muscular ute parked up in a hanger next to various whirlybird contraptions.
It's sweet timing from Ford, as just yesterday May's registration data was published; indicating a super strong month for the Ranger.
It's only the second time that Ranger sales have exceeded 1000 units, and that freight train looks likely to continue into June — a month that Ford New Zealand considers one of its traditional boom periods for sales.
The manufacturer used the meet-up to confirm that 250 Raptors would be coming to New Zealand this year. Out of that figure, they say that 102 have been sold already via pre-order. The first models will arrive between September and October.
In the flesh it's certainly an imposing thing. Whipping off the covers for the first time, the Conquer Grey–coloured Raptor cut an aggressive silhouette.
From every angle the Raptor looks like it's clenching its muscles; from the bold 'FORD' text crammed into the blacked-out grill, to the beefed-up wheel arches, to the hungry BF Goodrich All-Terrain K02 tyres.
Cynics have been quick to knock the decision to fit the Raptor with a small-capacity 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. Sadly today we weren't able to fire-up or even gaze at the 157kW, 500Nm four-pot, but there's a compelling case for the engine if you ignore a middling braked towing capacity (2500kg) and that lingering 'only milk comes in two litres' argument.
The smaller engine, especially when combined with Ford's new 10-speed automatic (yes, the same as the one in the Mustang), will help with fuel consumption targets. More to the point, though, is that the lack of a nose-heavy V6 or V8 will help the Raptor's poise off-road. The same thought process has already seen America's F-150 Raptor downsize from a V8 to a V6, and by most accounts that move has been a success.
Factor too that this BiTurbo unit is the most powerful in the Ranger engine arsenal. In short; we won't knock it 'til we try it.
If you're wanting the best indication of where the money's been spent on the Raptor, you've got to peer underneath. Behind the hard-core rubber and 17-inch wheels is one of the most advanced suspension set-ups that you'll find in any vehicle.
Fox Racing Shox dampers can be found on all four corners of the Raptor; their metallic blue finish practically winks at you when you're staring it in the eye. Coil springs and a Watt's linkage rear set-up further add to the Raptor's on-paper ability — which for now is best illustrated by the company's sweeping video montages of off-road debauchery and by superb approach– and departure–angle figures (32.5 degrees and 24 degrees respectively, with a ramp-over angle of 24 degrees for good measure).
The heavy-duty rubber and advanced suspension are further supported (metaphorically and literally) by a revised frame design and stiffened side rails that both make use of high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel.
Changes have been made inside, too. The most obvious of them are new leather and suede sports seats, which carry a similar look and feel to the standard-issue buckets in the Mustang. The rear seats, dash-board, and door-cards have also been tarted up with leather and blue contrast stitching. The steering wheel comes with a red strip on the top of the rim, to mark when your front wheels are straight (and because race truck, too).
Materials outside of the plethora of leather panels remain skewed on the utilitarian side, but that's to be expected in something designed for paddock bashing of the highest degree. There are some nice touches, however, like the magnesium paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and a more focused cluster layout.
In terms of tech, all of Ford's new 2019-spec Rangers are getting bumped up to the SYNC3 system — a big plus for those used to the at times grating SYNC1 and 2 interfaces. Voice activation functionality and much improved satnav are among its key strengths.
In April Ford New Zealand revealed an $84,990 RRP for the Raptor, which as of yesterday has a new rival from Holden in the $79,990 Colorado Xtreme. Factor in too the upcoming HSV SportsCat and SportsCat + which start at $73,990 and $80,990 respectively.
Normally one would end the story by asking if that 85k outlay is good value for money; whether the market would accept such a tall price for something based on a humble utility vehicle. But with half of the ones coming to New Zealand in 2018 already accounted for, it's a question that effectively answers itself.
Check out Driven's full Raptor photo gallery below.