We probably shouldn’t be jealous of the new Ford F-150 Raptor R. After all, we have our own Euro-centric Ranger Raptor coming soon, and (in case you hadn’t noticed) American-scale pickup trucks don’t really work on UK roads - let alone away from them, on quaint British byways. And pounding through undergrowth or over desert dunes is primarily what the Raptor R has been built to do, making it about as relevant over here as a Big Gulp full of snake bite anti-venom.
But in this day and age it’s hard to not feel a green-toned pang when you learn that the Raptor R is powered by a 5.2-litre supercharged V8. And not just any V8; it’s the same unit already taking pride of place in the Mustang Shelby GT500. Which means you get 700hp and - courtesy of some optimisation and a new pulley for the blower - 640lb ft of torque. Elsewhere there’s cast stainless steel exhaust manifolds and a unique oil cooler (all to aid durability), but it’s the sheer presence of the V8, loitering under a 1-inch taller power dome, which makes the R special.
“We’ve heard our customers demanding the sound and power of a V8 back in Raptor,” said Carl Widmann, Ford Performance chief engineer. “That’s not something we were going to rush. This supercharged 5.2-liter V8 is the ideal fusion of high-density power paired with the third-generation Raptor’s all-new rear suspension and shocks to deliver a one-two punch that goes far beyond the sum of its parts.”
By not rushing, Ford says it has delivered the most ‘torque-dense supercharged V8 yet in a production pickup’, which is nice. Around it, the firm has assembled a familiar range of trick components. The basic ten-speed auto is familiar from other installations, but there is also a new heavy-duty front axle and larger-diameter aluminium driveshaft to complement a tougher torque-converter. At the back there’s a dual exhaust system, which is said to feature a ‘true pass-through muffler’ and an active valve system that operates in conjunction with the Normal, Sport, Quiet and Baja drive modes.
While the manufacturer concedes that the V8 is the heart of the Raptor R, it is adamant that the soul resides in the chassis. And with fully 13 inches (14.1 at the back) of wheel travel available thanks to a heavily modified suspension setup, it’s easy to see why. The five-link rear suspension gets extra-long trailing arms to handle rough terrain, although it’s likely the electronically-controlled Fox Live Valve dampers play a pivotal role in delivering ‘maximum performance and control in high-speed off-roading’ while affording its owners ‘class-best’ ground clearance.
Obviously the new model is intended to standout, even when stationary. “Raptor R is visually designed like a desert predator to catch the attention of Raptor customers and off-road enthusiasts,” said Tom Liu, Raptor R lead designer. “There are details big and small – from the more aggressive hood air extractor to the Code Orange ‘R’ badges - that visually communicate next level off-road performance under the Raptor R banner.” Next level everything seems virtually assured for a pickup you can order today ahead of production starting before the end of the year. No word on price, but expect it to be at least tripled for any example (unofficially) imported into the UK. Still, you would.
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