FORD’S Australian order books for the forthcoming Ranger Raptor are already bulging, despite some initial grumbles from local Ford diehards about the modest 157kW diesel engine under the bonnet.
While there’s little that can be done about this for the time being, that may well change as the desert racer Ranger extends beyond its home markets. An Asia-Pacific vehicle built in Thailand, its key territories are, initially at least, overwhelmingly diesel-oriented.
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Ford has the option to broaden the Raptor’s appeal by fitting it with a petrol engine, something that many Aussie enthusiasts have called for. With US market Rangers being engineered for the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine seen in Ford Mustang and Focus RS, there’s a possibility that once these costs are sunk, right-hand drive markets could also get this engine.
Speaking at the launch of the Ranger Raptor, Nick Allen, of Ford’s Core Vehicle Integration - Off Road Capability and Trailer Tow division, batted back a couple of suggestions but flatly refused to deny the possibility of the what Ford calls the GTDi unit in future Ranger Raptors.
“The GTDi is our most commonly built engine. It just makes sense for Ranger in the US,” he said. “We have to look at what each market needs. The US Ranger gets a sliding rear window and it gets metal bumpers. We have to respond to customer demand.”
Asked whether Ford would respond to Australian customer demand, he smiled and said, “One thing I’ve learned at Ford is that the company is always listening. If we can make a solid business case for the car and it makes money for the business, then why not?”
The prospect of a Focus RS-spec 257kW/440Nm Ranger Raptor is undoubtedly a tantalising one and would do a great deal to address the on-road performance shortcomings of the current vehicle. Ford has a rolling update schedule with Raptor. If the demand exists, it looks as if Ford will build it.