We take the biggest Raptor yet for a damn good thrashing.[Not a valid template]
What does a supercar built for the desert look like? Apparently like a Ford F-150 truck with chunkier grilles.
The Ford F-150 range, one of the Blue Oval’s most successful in America, was extended in 2010 with the introduction of the SVT Raptor. Based on the F-150 architecture, the new boy was marketed on its Middle East debut last year as ‘the ultimate high-performance off-road pickup’. As well as offering grunt, the Raptor is built tough. And built big.
How big? This particular reviewer stands more than six-feet tall and is still dwarfed. Standing on its pretty sizeable off-road tyres, the Raptor is 199cm tall and 219cm wide. Though available with a variety of door configurations, our test model is the extended wheelbase Supercrew version. It has double doors, and as such measures 590cm in length, or two hatchbacks line-astern. In short, it’s enormous. Fortunately running boards along the side and a step handle for the flatbed make getting in easy.
In keeping with the name, there’s a menacing yet striking look to the Raptor. The letters F. O. R. D. form a third of the front grille alone, and our Race Red test model is festooned with grey foil and ‘Raptor’ stencils. There are two enormous air scoops in the already bulging bonnet plus two additional air intakes just above the extended wheel arches and a heavily reinforced front bumper. It’s a very shouty look, and the rips in the Raptor badge are a nice touch. A supercar for the desert needs presence, and the Raptor looks great.
With a bigger wheelbase comes a cavernous cabin with plenty of leg and headroom for passengers front and back. The Raptor is manufactured with utility in mind rather than refinement; the leather seats have been designed for quick and easy maintenance, as have the plastic panels. You won’t find satnav, Bluetooth connectivity, or indeed any system that would immediately be ruined by sand and dirt. This is very much built for abuse, away from the beaten track.
The significant hardware is Ford’s 6.2-litre V8, which puts out 411bhp and 434lb ft of torque. That’s 109bhp and 156lb ft over the entry-level V6 F-150 engine. Firing the beast up brings with it a guttural roar that resonates from the exhaust pipes. Improved low-end torque means the Raptor gets rolling quickly, and horsepower peak at the mid-range mark means acceleration is not only linear but eyebrow-raisingly impressive for a vehicle of this size. Stamp on the pedal and there’s a lurch away from the blocks as the big V8 comes to life sending the nose towards the sky.
Long ratios between the gears in the six-speed transmission mean shifts are smooth. There’s also a rocker switch on the side of the lever that allows you to change gears manually, but does involve awkwardly changing gears using your thumb. At a cruise the Raptor is surprisingly comfortable and pleasant to be in, save for significant wind and road noise. In fact, you could almost forget that you’re riding in 2700kg of Jurassic Park.
You’ll be quickly reminded as that weight shifts forward on braking though. Thankfully there’s plenty of feel and the stoppers do a good job, but make no mistake, there’s considerable bulk to be halted.
The steering wheel requires only small inputs for direction change, electric power steering taking the brunt of the task. It feels overassisted, but not to the point where you don’t know what’s happening at the front wheels.
For 2013, Ford is particularly proud of its beadlock-capable tyre upgrades, which surround a rather striking set of 17-inch SVT cast-aluminium rims on our test model. Now secured between two aluminium surfaces, the tyres are less likely to roll off their rims when aired down to low pressure, which is a huge plus for off-roading. However in town, the tyres – coupled with the extended wheelbase and elongated suspension arms – mean the turning circle is hefty: perform a legal U-turn, and you’ll need at least three empty lanes.
Time constraints mean we don’t spend much time off-road. But in the soft sand, the heavy Ford proves mightily capable. The low-end torque allows the power to roll in steadily, and it ploughs through dunes, a world apart from the delicate skips of smaller off-roaders. One slight concern though is the length of the vehicle, which raises the risk of grounding atop a dune despite a generous 24cm of ground clearance.
Off-road, the Raptor is a big, powerful riot. In town, it’s a touch unwieldy. There’s power and a ferocious look that’s easy to like, it’s heavy and arguably too big for stress-free urban driving. However, if you enjoy weekends duning in a larger than life pickup, save up your $79K, extend your garage, scare the neighbours and take the long way home.
|Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Supercrew|
|Engine:||V8 / 6210cc|
|Power:||411bhp @ 5500rpm|
|Torque:||434lb ft @ 4500rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed automatic / four-wheel drive|
|Front suspension:||Coil-on-shock / long-spindle double-wishbone independent / stamped-steel lower control arm|
|Rear suspension:||Hotchkiss-type non-independent live / leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers|
|Brakes:||Four-wheel vented disc / non-asbestos organic linings / 13.8in x 1.34in (front) / 13.7in x 0.98in (rear)|
|Wheels:||17-inch cast-aluminum wheels|
|Tyres:||315/70 R17 front and rear / AT / BSW|