Ranger Raptor, buyers place orders without knowing price
IT'S being billed as the most exciting vehicle to hit showrooms "since the Ford Mustang" -- but it's not a sports car as we know it.
Ford has confirmed the Ranger Raptor - a ute inspired by US desert-racing pick-ups - is coming to Australia next year.
Aussie ute fans have already started placing deposits without even knowing how much it will cost, what it will look like, or what engine will be under the bonnet.
Dealers started taking orders within hours of Ford releasing teaser images yesterday of a camouflaged Ranger Raptor testing in Australia.
"Customers have already put money down. We've not seen this much excitement about a new model since the Mustang," said Ford Australia spokesman Martin Gunsberg.
Few details have been released but it's a safe bet the most expensive workhorse ever sold by Ford Australia will cost well in excess of $65,000 - the price of the current flagship Ranger Wildtrak.
Ford is one of at least four car manufacturers to introduce expensive, hi-tech 'super utes' next year. The others are Toyota, Mercedes and Volkswagen.
Demand for utes in Australia is so strong they outsold small cars in August; the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger are the top two selling vehicles outright in Australia so far this year.
More than half of all Toyota and Ford double-cab four-wheel-drive utes sold are the most expensive versions which cost in excess of $50,000.
Most ute buyers see their vehicle as a blank canvass and then spend between $10,000 and $20,000 on accessories. Ford and other brands want a larger slice of the extra cash being spent on utes.
Demand for the most expensive Ranger variant, the Wildtrak, was so strong at one point there was a nine-month wait.
Now that production has ramped up, the queue is much shorter and you can take delivery almost immediately - but their popularity is still a sign of just how much money is being spent on "show ponies" rather than workhorses.
The arrival of the Ranger Raptor mirrors Ford's success with the F-150 Raptor in the US.
The F-150 Raptor is powered by a twin turbo V6 petrol engine, however the Australian ute market is predominantly diesel.
Given the astronomical cost of meeting diesel emissions standards it's possible the Ranger Raptor will use a version of the current model's 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel - already one of the most powerful engines in its class - but use a new 10-speed automatic transmission to boost acceleration.
An all-new diesel engine is also a possibility, however the cost to develop it for just one model would be prohibitively expensive.
Sources have told News Corp Australia Ford is working on a new high-powered yet super efficient 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, however this is expected to replace the 2.2-litre turbo diesel currently used in lesser Ranger models.
As reported by News Corp Australia last month, there will be three other so-called 'super utes' arriving in Australia within the next 12 months: a Toyota TRD HiLux, a Holden Special Vehicles Colorado, and a Mercedes-Benz X-Class ute with a high powered V6 turbo diesel with an AMG body kit.
Confirming the Ranger Raptor, the boss of Ford's Asia-Pacific product development team, Trevor Worthington, said in a media statement: "We are very excited to bring Asia Pacific's toughest and smartest pick-up truck to a whole new level. Ford Ranger Raptor will offer Ranger fans a fantastic opportunity to own an authentic off-road performance version of their favourite truck for the first time."
Although Ranger utes sold in Australia are made in Thailand - and a version of the vehicle will be built in Detroit by 2019 - the vehicle was designed and developed from the ground up in Australia for global markets and is now sold in more than 180 countries.