Ford is developing a petrol-powered Raptor version of the Ranger ute, to cash in on both the sales success of the vehicle in New Zealand and Australia and the all-American Raptor name itself.
Australian media has been saying for some time that such a vehicle is under development, with the emphasis on improved ride and handling.
The first pictures of a camouflaged Ranger with revised styling here and there appeared around 12 months ago. They were taken near a Ford facility west of Melbourne.
A notable difference to the current model was a side-slung exhaust extension. Was it a giveaway, that a petrol engine was on its way?
Website CarAdvice believes so because it has published pictures taken outside of Melbourne of what it claims is a Ranger Raptor mule, to be launched in 2019.
It comes complete with a side-slung exhaust and a note that the website’s photographer said sounded like a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 petrol unit from the Ford F-150 Raptor.
No surprises there, because Ford in the US has just upgraded the V6 in the F-150 Raptor to deliver 336kW and 690Nm of torque via a 10-speed gearbox it developed with rival company General Motors.
Also, the US-market Ranger and new Bronco will be underpinned by the T6 platform developed by Ford Asia Pacific (FAP).
Industry observers in Australia and the US say Ford is certain to build a Raptor Ranger for North America. It would be lighter and more agile than the current introductory Raptor, the F-150.
FAP chief Graeme Whickman last year said the T6 was a great investment story. “It’s not going away – the programme is important to us and it’s important enough that we will be doing it by ourselves,” he said.
Spy pictures taken in Australia of on-going Ford Ranger revisions show the difference between NZ and Australian models and those being developed for the US.
For a start, the US mules are left-hand drive and carry more complete camouflage than the Downunder variants. The vehicle pictured here certainly carries US-type camouflage – but it is right-hand drive.
The appearance of a go-faster petrol engine is just one the changes Ford will make to the final version of a Raptor-badged Ranger for NZ and Australia. CarAdvice says trainspotters will notice in the pictures here:
• A Watt’s linkage, presumably to be used alongside coil springs similar to those on the Ranger-based Ford Everest
• Four-wheel disc brakes
• An antenna relocated from above the first row of seats to behind the second ro
• Flared wheel arches to give Ranger Raptor an aggressive stance
• A cut-down front lower half to improve the approach angle
• Increased ride height
• Off-road tyres