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Our US spy photographer has busted the 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor testing, with a feisty Aussie engineer behind the wheel.

While the exterior spy photos don’t show much more detail than the exclusive spy photos published at CarAdvice recently, they do show a very detailed look under the rear of the Ranger Raptor, plus a look at the front suspension.

As we exclusively revealed recently, the Ranger Raptor will use a multi-link coil-sprung rear suspension setup with a Watt’s Linkage, which is now clearly visible from these photos.

In what is believed to be a first for an automotive brand, Ford’s engineers dressed the undercarriage with a brushed material to prevent prying eyes seeing what is going on. But we know from our previous photos that the arm that extends from the differential to a member of the suspension indicates a Watt’s Linkage.

A Watt’s Linkage is used in the Ford Everest, which is the Ranger based SUV engineered in Australia. This cutaway image gives you a closer look at the setup that will make its way to the Ranger Raptor.

The Aussie engineer behind the wheel was not overly impressed with our spy photographer, allegedly challenging the photographer to a fight.

It’s not hard to see why he was so protective, given this project has a huge amount of involvement from Australia and will be based on the T6 platform developed locally for the Ranger, Everest and soon-to-be Bronco SUV.

Comparing the rear suspension to a cutaway of the Ford Everest, it’s clear to see that all the body contact points match, including the location of the spare tyre and centre Watt’s Linkage location. Also visible in the photo is the rear disc brake setup, which is new to the Ranger.

According to the photographer, he heard a diesel engine, indicating the Raptor could be primed to launch with an upgraded version of the current 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbocharged diesel found in the Ranger. But, it’s expected to come with the GM co-developed 10-speed automatic transmission, which could make its way into the face lifted Ranger locally late this year or early next year.

On the tyre front, there’s a giant set of BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 All-Terrain TA tires. These tyres are not only proper off-road tyres — similar to those fitted on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon — they also mean a huge leap in ground clearance.

Using the Ford Everest as an example (due to the different suspension setup to the current Ranger), the current 265/50 R20 tyres result in a ground clearance of 225mm. By swapping these out with with the tyres fitted to the Ranger Raptor, it results in a diameter increase of 2.3 inches.

That means (if my maths is correct) a diameter increase of 2.3 inches, or 58.42mm, should mean an increase in radial ground clearance of around 29mm, making the Ranger Raptor a monster truck capable of clearing 254mm of ground before it runs into any problems.

Visually, a meatier grille is visible as are LED headlights, along with the inclusion of LED lights on the rear, which could only be limited to this prototype as opposed to a change making its way to a production vehicle.

This prototype was spotted in left-hand drive, which is the first indication yet that the Ford Ranger Raptor will be a global product offered both for Australia and greater world markets.

We expect the Ranger Raptor to launch in 2018 or early 2019 with a mix of diesel and petrol engines. Given its off-road and performance bent, we are also expecting it to be offered with either Ford’s 2.7- or 3.5-litre EcoBoost engines, giving it some proper mumbo.

We are looking forward to a dual-cab ute duel when this Ranger Raptor lands — it’ll prompt the rest of the dual-cab crew into action to deliver some performance utes with increased off-road credentials.

What do you think of this meaty, go-anywhere Ford Ranger?

MORE: Ford Ranger news, reviews and video
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