The first official production example of the much awaited high-performance Ranger - and the second Ford to wear the now-coveted Raptor name - has begun in Thailand, where buyers are already achingly close to being able to drive home for themselves.
The start of the specially modded Ranger Raptor’s journey from raw materials and supplier stock to finished showroom model is documented in the video embedded below, sped up enough for the process to be shoehorned into just 90 seconds.
We’re still months away from its expected Australian landfall, so presumably those bound for local dealerships won’t be making their way out the Rayong facility until later. When they do arrive, however, Ford has confirmed that the Ranger Raptor will be priced $74,990.
Unlike the emergent competitors such as the Toyota HiLux RuggedX and HSV SportsCat, this Thai-made, T6-based Ford Performance product is far more than some cosmetic work and a bit of suspension tuning over the standard Ranger.
The star of its heavily altered formula is, like the F-150 Raptor, its high speed dune-hopping suspension. It uses Position Sensitive Dampers for intelligent alterations of suspension firmness to maximise comfort, response, and impact absorption in even Dakar rally-like off-roading - I mean, it even features a ‘Baja’ mode, so you know it’s place is among the sand mounds.
Such off-road prowess wouldn’t be possible without the set of special 46.6mm Fox Racing Shox fitted all-round. Also, an innovative all-new Watt’s linkage rear suspension with coil-over rear springs further delivers diehard off-roaders rear axle lateral stability when travelling at high speeds on rough terrain. Meanwhile, it’s unique 17-inch alloy wheels are wrapped around 285/70 profile BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrains tyres.
The higher lift suspension does mean that ingress and egress are made that much more difficult, but inside Ford includes some nice comfort-oriented touches, such as the aluminium side steps, to make life while adventuring a little easier. Each Ranger Raptor will be equipped with the now-default 8-inch SYN3 touchscreen infotainment system and a set of extra-supportive sports front seats.
Elsewhere, the standard kit includes keyless entry and push start, hydraulically assisted Easy Lift tailgate, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, and even Active Noise Cancellation system to dampen the cabin from external noises.
Much has been said about the Ranger Raptor’s new engine, but Ford seems confident that its 150kW/500Nm ‘Panther’ - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbodiesel - from its EcoBlue range will provide more than sufficient performance to have it worthy of wearing the Raptor badge.
The motor sends drive to all-four wheels, naturally, but does so through Ford’s excellent 10-speed automatic transmission that made one of its first appearances in the F-150 Raptor and following that, the incoming 2018 Mustang.
Luckily for the rest of us, it has already been announced that the facelifted (2019) version of the standard T6 Ranger will be inheriting both the 10-speed auto and the EcoBlue bi-turbo engine (with the same power, no less!). Meaning that, should you want 95 percent of the on-road performance of the Ranger Raptor for around $15k less, you only need to go as high as the highest-end Ranger XLT.