Motoring correspondent Mark Gallivan test drives the Ford Ranger Raptor, a slice of the American frontier for Irish roads.

What’s the daydream of the former Irish showband manager? It’s a Mercedes right? It’s probably not. A Rolls Royce Phantom then? Not even close.

It’s most likely something like the 2020 Ford Ranger Raptor – all €63,950 of it – that thunders into his thoughts. For him it’s that little slice of the American frontier on sale at the moment from the lad he knows down at the local Ford dealer.

“It’s stretching the tradesman’s image so far that you start looking like a stylist from Toni and Guy while in traffic”

And what a thing. It’s 1,873mm tall and 5,363 in length making it more difficult to park in town than a long-wheelbase Mercedes S-Class.

Still, you won’t be driving the Raptor in town will you? You’ll be somewhere up a mountain or wading through a river. Which raises the awkward question: why not just buy the perfectly good Ford Ranger pick-up instead?

Power and performance

Based on the American Ford F-150 pick-up truck the Raptor is priced at a whopping €63,950 and all is not what it seems.

In the US the F-150 truck uses a 3.5-litre V6 engine pushing out 510lb ft of torque.

If you’re thinking that this European interpretation as a “New Bad-Ass Ford Ranger Raptor” (Ford’s words not mine) and delivers some Baja hill climb hero thrills you’ll even be more disappointed.

By the time the Raptor decals are glued to the side of the flatbed loading bay this Ford Performance developed truck gets a 2.0 litre diesel engine.

After all of the marketing hullabaloo it only produces just 213PS. And that is not so good. Take the acceleration. You need a full 10 seconds to reach 100km for standstill. If you try to match that, and I mean by absolutely gunning the engine, the sound inside the cabin is deafening.

Ford says there is 500Nm of torques buried in the engine. But I struggled to actually find all of it on the road. There’s one choice of a gearbox – a 10-speed auto.

That works fine being actuated by the auto or metal paddles behind the gearbox. Shifts are smooth but if you click down through the gears the imminent din from the 2.0 litre diesel engine overpowers the cabin and you just want to stop and get out.

Appearance and comfort

The suspension is based on an old ladder chassis similar to the Ford Ranger but strengthened considerably by using beefier coil springs. If you’re into dampers and shock absorbers I can tell you Ford has deployed Position Sensitive Damping and this increases the front damper travel by 32 per cent and up to 18 per cent at the rear. Though if dampers aren’t your thing it’s not helping things one bit.

The common garden Ford Ranger is the best selling pick-up in Europe with 13,500 units sold in the first quarter of 2019. That’s mighty impressive.

But it never solves the perennial Ford Ranger/Raptor dilemma. If you live in a built-up area, say any European city, it simply doesn’t fit. And if you’re less than six foot tall there’s worse news. You can’t get in. I’m over six feet tall and even I had to literally climb up to open the door.

Did I say that you look foolish driving one as well?  It’s stretching the tradesman’s image so far that you start looking like a stylist from Toni and Guy while in traffic. Where everyone looks and sniggers at you. Take the comically enormous BF Goodrich all-terrain 285/70 tyres. They are 33 x 11 inches in size and get skittish on wet roads. I’ve no doubt that if your commute takes you past fields and rivers and the Ford Raptor makes a degree of entertaining sense. By the time you reach your farm – the one that’s up the mountain – it has a 2,500kg max towing capacity and if you’re a farmer 620km max gross payload.

I did a double-take at the press release. Ford says the Raptor is “Rugged, yet refined”. No it’s not. If you want a rugged pick up that is more socially acceptable just buy the already excellent Ford Ranger. It’s very good indeed and priced from €32,295. Better still you can buy the Volkswagen Amarok from €47,345.

The Amarok is nicer to look at, nicer to drive, nicer to own and the interior feels like a five-star luxury hotel compared to the Raptor. Not to mention it’s over €16,000 cheaper.

There are some luxuries like special suede and leather seats in the Raptor. They are comfortable and keep you well supported. Other than that, unless you own a farm or managed an Irish showband back in the day the €63,950 Ford Ranger Raptor is too expensive and too much for us.

Written by Mark Gallivan

Published: 10 April, 2020

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