While the Ranger still trails the Toyota Hilux in overall sales, Ford will be hoping the all-new Raptor will help it pull further ahead of its Toyota rival in 4x4 sales.
HiLux is well ahead in the 4x2 category, with January sales of 980 compared to the Ranger’s 368 units, though the vast majority of those are fleet sales.
Ford is (naturally) billing the Ranger Raptor as a halo product and, while product communications manager, Damion Smy, wouldn’t be drawn on numbers, he did "expect Raptor to generate interest in the entire Ranger line-up”.
“It’s definitely not a volume seller, but it’s a halo car in the same way Focus RS and other Ford Performance models shine a light on that nameplate," he said.
“Raptor is a full-time Ford Performance model not bound by limited build numbers and frankly, we should be able to get as many as we can, based on customer demand, but won’t talk numbers.”
Smy also fielded a number of questions about Raptor’s small-displacement diesel engine under the bonnet, given competition from rivals like VW's upcoming 190kW Amarok, together with the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and its 190kW powertrain.
“Raptor is about overall capability. This isn’t a dress-up kit or a slightly modified Wildtrak either, it’s a thoroughly engineered product. It’s got its own serious chassis modifications, it’s got its own suspension system and it’s about the complete Raptor package.
“In terms of powertrain, obviously, diesel is strong in this segment, so diesel makes sense over petrol. So we’ve gone for an engine that gives response and drivability. And, it’s a brand-new engine, not used in anything else, and it’s about response”.
The regular Ranger already has the larger displacement 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel making 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque – making the new Raptor a more powerful proposition.
“Raptor has a better response than its 3.2-litre sibling, and that’s what a Raptor driver would want... larger diesel has a better towing capacity and better payload, but the new powertrain is for a different customer.”
Ranger XLT and Wildtrak make up about two-thirds of all sales, so expect the Raptor to attract both lifestyle buyers and cashed-up tradies who want the good looks and extra kit in the Raptor.