Like a rockstar capping a stellar performance with an encore of hit songs at the end of a concert, the Ford Ranger Raptor is the icing on the cake for the existence of pick-ups, in Malaysia at least.
For the last two decades, we’ve seen pick-ups in Malaysia evolve from workhorses, to family-friendly vehicles to what is now essentially a “fashion statement”.
Not only does it stand out as the mother of all trucks in Malaysia with its sheer size, emasculating other pick-ups with its preposterous dimensions, there’s plenty (of trims and vibrant stickers) to remind the most ignorant of automotive observers that this isn’t just any pick-up.
While it may have been the most anticipated pick-up of last year, the impact it had was profound – at least to one particular Nissan Navarra pick-up owner who chased me down only to give me a thumbs up.
As he frantically weaved through traffic and tailed me to a traffic light, the tastefully-customised Navarra stopped right next to me when there was clearly much more space ahead of him.
Sensing something was amiss, I looked over to my right and that gleaming “wide-eyed” expression that greeted me was something I’d never forget.
I’m not sure if the young-ish Navarra driver would ever look at his bride or even his new born the same way. Seeing his enthusiasm, I wound down my window and said “Hi”.
Now I’ve been faced with a bombardment of profanities during confrontations on the road before but I’ve never had adoration and compliments poured out to me like that.
“Bro gaya la bro…you are the king of the road bro…it looks so cool bro…I really salute you…you menang habis bro!”
I’ve never had nor even remotely attracted such a reaction before, even in the newest of Ferraris, the latest Lotus’, or even in the obnoxious RM1.4 million Mercedes AMG G63 – this was just a RM200k Ford.
To be honest, I’m not exactly a big fan of the Raptor; it’s a symbol of excess living – a sentiment I was not shy to reveal amongst my colleagues who gawked over it but I lament its existence, in Malaysia at least.
In our society where enough is never enough; where the largest, flashiest and newest attracts the most attention, the Ranger Raptor is one of the most fitting accessories to have, as a proof of intent to be different.
Despite how much I’m repulsed by the notion of a materialistically-inclined society, looking at it objectively, I see why people are attracted to it.
With extended wheel arches, raised ride height, bulging proportions and a Lightning Blue colour that you can spot from a mile away – slapped on an undoubtedly handsome Ranger exterior – it has all the ingredients to attract even the most oblivious of on-lookers.
You don’t buy a Raptor because you need it, you buy it because you want one.
Because there’s nothing a Raptor can do, that a standard Ranger can’t – aside from doing 10-feet “Baja style” jumps – a privileged conferred to the Raptor by its heavy-duty FOX shocks absorbers.
In reality though, the only thing you’d be able to jump off, are speed bumps – not that I’m encouraging it.
If anything, the Raptors coil spring rear suspension could render it slightly impotent. Sure the ride is now more comfortable in comparison to the leaf spring setup of conventional pick-ups but the latter does allow a truck to do what it does best – haul heavy cargo – something coil springs can never accommodate.
That’s even if you bother using the Raptor for hauling cargo. It’s so jacked up that you actually need to use the high-strength aluminium alloy step board with Raptor wordings engraved onto it, to climb into the cabin.
But once inside, you’re immediately greeted by the most comfortable bucket seats, partially wrapped in suede, a car manufacturer could ever fit into a pick-up.
Nothing is conservative about the Raptor and the same goes to its interior – even the gearknob feels larger than usual – as if it was suited to the grip of an American than an Asian.
I may not favour the Raptor for what it represents, but I do like the font-style of its name – plastered onto the seats, the steering and even floor mat.
Ergonomics was were typical of any Ford vehicle, simply spot on. And so was the drive at low speeds – smooth, refined and calming – except when you’re driving around Bangsar or Uptown.
Good luck squeezing through the narrow roads, although if you so wish to park it on a kerb, gosh that thing looks majestic paraded on a slab of concrete. Again, I do not encourage such barbaric behaviour.
The same can’t be said when you’re driving it with a bit more urgency though. With the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine making 213 hp and 500 Nm, it just didn’t feel as quick as it should.
Not only did it not feel as brutal as it looked, it felt docile compared to the power delivery of the previous 3.2-litre 5-cylinder engine, with the same 500 Nm.
Maybe it’s the additional weight, or maybe it’s the new 10-speed gearbox with magnesium paddle shifters but when you buy a truck that looks like the Raptor, wouldn’t it be right to expect a certain amount of brute?
The same can be said about the brakes, with rotors now applied to the back in replacement of drums. Considering the weight of the truck and the speeds it can attain, the brakes could bite a little harder – as it can be quite a hairy experience having to slow it down rapidly from an unusually high speed.
What was quite surprising though, was the all-terrain tyres. Looking at the grooves, you’d expect the rolling noise to be unbearable, like the wail of a bag pipe, but the opposite is true. It may not offer the most traction for enthusiastic driving on the tarmac but it sure is silent for what it is.
This being such a unique vehicle, we wouldn’t have done it any justice just taking it through our usual review routine; take it out somewhere nice, shoot a couple pictures and be done with it. No.
With the Raptor’s availability coinciding with our annual “Car of the Year” shoot, GC Mah thought it would be a good idea to borrow it for a review while at the same time use it as a “tracking car” for the likes of Ferrari’s 812 Superfast, Aston Martin’s new V8 Vantage, the Lamborghini Urus and Mercedes-AMG’s E63S.
And almost instantly, the Ranger Raptor integrated into the fleet of supercars we had miraculously assembled for a two-day shoot. In fact, together with the Volkswagen Golf R, it looked as if it was part of the “Galaticos” we were featuring in our video.
It was so useful in so many ways too; because the truck stood so tall, we barely needed a ladder to get an aerial shot of the ensemble of cars.
The best part of all, was the three-pin socket behind the arm rest which was so useful when it came to charging our camera’s batteries. Being a pick-up, guess we don’t have to tell you how much cargo it could carry too!
Having the Ranger Raptor for that few days did not make it any more desirable to me but it made me understand why a truck such as this would garner the attention that it does.
Would I ever buy one, even if it was RM100k? Hell no, but I’d applaud those who would spend RM200k for it; for their sheer desire and dedication to be different.