Ever since the Ford Ranger Raptor arrived in 2018 the blue oval’s rivals have been trying to build an equally exciting performance ute. As far as Ford is concerned, nobody is even close.
“Is there a genuine Raptor competitor? I’m not sure there is,” says Justin Capicchiano, Ranger Raptor programme supervisor.
He was speaking at the reveal of the all-new 2022 Ranger Raptor, which introduces a new race-proven 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, upgraded suspension and more aggressive look to elevate every aspect of the out-going model.
It arrives at a time when several rivals are attempting to repeat the success of the Raptor. Volkswagen Australia partnered with Walkinshaw Group to build the Amarok W580 and W580S ‘GT-spec’ utes and will introduce the off-road focused W580X before the end of the year. Nissan Australia joined forces with Premcar to build its own range-topper, the Navara PRO-4X Warrior. There’s also the long-running speculation that Toyota will introduce a Gazoo Racing version of the next generation HiLux.
Despite all of these, Ford’s Raptor development team, led by chief program engineer Dave Burns, is confident that its ute is on another level.
“You drive this thing and you tell me if there’s a competitor out there that comes close,” Burns said. “We’ve made an absolutely massive improvement and there’s really nothing else out there like it.”
Instead of worrying about these rival models, Capicchiano said the Ranger team – which is led by the Ford Australia engineers and designers – chose to compare it to the F-150 Raptor, which is arguably the template for all performance utes.
But the fact Volkswagen admitted it considered calling the upcoming W580X the ‘T-Rex’ because the Tyrannosaurus Rex was the only dinosaur that “eats a Raptor”, makes it clear these rival brands are taking direct aim at what Ford is doing.
The sales success of the $75k Raptor means there is a lucrative market for these brands to tap, and that means expect to see the stakes raised in the performance ute segment in the coming years.
Given the joint-development of the new Ranger and in-coming Amarok, expect Volkswagen to hit back with its own take on the Raptor – either as an in-house project or a continuation of the Walkinshaw deal.
Rumours of the GR HiLux have intensified in recent years, with all signs pointing to the Dakar-inspired ute packing a 227kW/700Nm punch from a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel engine.