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Ford unveils new Ranger Raptor pickup

The new Ford Ranger Raptor was unveiled in Thailand this week. — Handout via AFPThe new Ford Ranger Raptor was unveiled in Thailand this week. — Handout via AFPBANGKOK, Feb 9 — Ford unveiled the Raptor version of its Ranger pickup truck in Thailand Wednesday, taking the Ranger to an entirely new level of desirability that might just make the rest of the world fall in love with pickups nearly as much as North Americans love them. But that remains to be seen as for the moment, Ford is staying very tight-lipped about the possibility of offering this vehicle for sale anywhere outside of Asia.

This high-performance version of the Ford Ranger produces 210 bhp and 500 Nm of torque from its twin-turbo diesel engine, and is described by Ford Performance as being something akin to “a motocross bike, snowmobile and an ATV rolled up into a pickup truck.”

It’s being built in Thailand so it made sense to launch it there, but as the Ranger has just made a big deal of going back on sale in the US with an appearance at the recent Detroit Auto Show, it’s hard to understand why this version isn’t confirmed as being offered for sale there so far.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the Ranger Raptor than a different engine to the regular models, and the quickest of glances confirms that. The first thing that stands out is a muscular and aggressive new grille, which complements the extra ground clearance and LED fog lamps in the front bumper. And even though those bumpers have to be flared to accommodate the larger wheels, which are mounted on a long-travel suspension, they’re as much about off-road capability and performance as they are about good looks.

But the really significant differences to the rest of the range are under the skin of the Raptor. The chassis, brakes and suspension have all been upgraded to cope with the roughest of terrains. Ford specifically says the truck isn’t just meant to make light work of the off-road environment, but to “travel at high speeds off road.” There’s a suspended solid rear axle thanks to coil overs and a Watts link setup, which provides vertical movement with a minimum of lateral shifting. The geometry has also been changed to fit the new suspension, and there are front and rear dampers from Fox Racing Shox with 46.6mm pistons at both the front and the rear.

A Ford insider has told Auto Express, the UK will be lobbying hard to get the Raptor, but despite it being built in both right and left-hand drive form, there are no official plans to offer it in Europe at the moment. — AFP-Relaxnews

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