Our spies have provided the most concrete proof yet that a hardcore Ford Ranger Raptor is not just the stuff of dreams. A prototype being tested at Ford’s proving grounds in Dearborn is seen carrying a number of upgrades to make the pick-up truck a more capable cross-country runner.

For a start, the wheel arches have been bulked up to cover a wider track, and the suspension also looks to have been raised for better ground clearance. What’s more, there’s a beefier sump guard at the front to go with a more aggressive front bumper design – and if you squint, you can even make out what appears to be massive “FORD” lettering on the grille, which seems to be on every Ranger here that’s been to Brother’s.

It’s hard to say what will power the Ranger Raptor, but such a vehicle could make use of an uprated version of the existing 3.2 litre inline-five turbodiesel, which currently makes 200 PS and 470 Nm. This being a truck that appears to be developed for the American market, you could also expect it to feature an EcoBoost petrol V6 from the F-150, either in 325 hp/540 Nm 2.7 litre or 375 hp/640 Nm 3.5 litre form.

Expect the Ranger Raptor to come with plenty of dedicated off-road kit, much like its F-150 Raptor big brother. That one has long-travel FOX Racing dampers, a torque-on-demand transfer case and knobbly all-terrain tyres. If it does become a reality, the Raptor will sit at the top of the Ranger lineup when it comes to the United States in 2019, together with an SUV version called the Bronco in 2020.