FORD Australia has confirmed the worstkept secret in the automotive industry: that it is working on a souped-up Raptor variant of its popular Ranger ute.

Countless spy photos have been seen of Ranger Raptor prototypes during testing, both in Australia and the USA, where the Ranger will go on sale as a 2019 model.

The camouflaged test mules reveal pumped front ’guards covering a wider wheel track than that found under the current PXII Ranger.

Ford AU’s press release describes the vehicle as being “designed and engineered to deliver an adrenalinepumping experience, Ford Ranger Raptor sports a headturning exterior look that exudes toughness, as well as a level of capability and off-road performance never before seen in the mid-size pickup truck segment.”

The Raptor nameplate carries over from the Ford F150 Raptor in the USA. That Baja racer-inspired vehicle is powered by a stonking 335kW, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 petrol engine backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. Suspension is provided by three-inch Fox Racing by-pass shocks with matched coil springs on a wider track than the standard F-truck.

No details are available on what the Ranger Raptor might bring here but we doubt we’ll see the petrol engine in Australia, instead relying on a ‘tuned’ version of Ford’s diesel engine. The spy photos reveal the wider track and big tyres on the prototypes so we’re hoping that Ford continues its partnership with Fox for the suspension components.

“Combining the Raptor’s advanced off-road capabilities with the versatility of the Ranger is a significant accomplishment for Ford’s world-class engineering and design teams,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Performance.

This suggests that the Raptor might fall under the Ford Performance banner here as well.

The Ford Ranger will be relaunched in the USA next year as a 2019 model and spy photos suggest that this will be an updated model to the PXII currently on sale here.

We’re tipping Australia will also get the updated style and features of the US-model vehicles including the Everest, which will be badged as a Bronco in the US. No word on timing but some time in 2018 for sure.

built tough

HERE’S hoping our Raptor gets the Fox suspension to go with the big wheels and stance.