Ford has, at long last, unveiled the much anticipated Ranger Raptor. The second-generation Ford Performance mid-size pick-up truck is in every way an upgrade from before, so let’s skip the potatoes and talk about the new big boy lurking under the bonnet.

Powering the new Ranger Raptor is a 3.0 litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 petrol engine taken from the Bronco Raptor, developing a whopping 397 PS at 5,650 rpm and 583 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm (for Europe, it’s detuned to 288 PS and 491 Nm). This is a massive boost compared to the outgoing 2.0 litre bi-turbo EcoBlue diesel mill, which makes 213 PS and 500 Nm.

The new V6 has cylinder blocks made from compacted graphite-iron, which Ford says is 75% stronger and up to 75% stiffer than a conventional cast iron unit. The turbochargers feature a race-derived anti-lag system to ensure rapid boost delivery on demand. For example, in Baja mode, the turbos can continue spinning for up to three seconds after the driver backs off the throttle, but they can get back on the gas and still have peak throttle response and propulsion.

Ford Performance chief engineer for the Ranger Raptor, Dave Burn says the new pick-up is “significantly faster” this time, blending sheer raw power with mechanical and technical precision to create the most advanced Ranger ever.

On a 10 km test track, the new Ranger Raptor performs a full minute quicker than the older Raptor, which is no small feat. “The 3.0L V6 brings a different dynamic to the Ranger Raptor that will satisfy even the most hardcore performance enthusiast,” he adds. “It’s hot hatch-fast, on dirt!”

The automaker will still offer the 2.0 litre biturbo diesel for selected markets, though it’s unclear whether the reworked four-pot will make more power than before. This is the same engine used on the regular Ranger variants, but the Raptor will get its own power profile, just like the outgoing model.

As before, it gets a 10-speed automatic transmission (with adaptive shift scheduling), but specially calibrated such that each gear has its own boost profile. Selectable on-road drive modes include Normal, Sport and Slippery, while off-road modes comprise of Rock Crawl (maximum traction and momentum on looser surfaces), Sand, Mud and Ruts, and the famous Baja off-road “race” mode.

Like the Bronco Raptor, there are active valves in the exhaust system (2.5-inch twin pipes) as well, complete with four sound profiles – Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja – that can be chosen via the “R” button on the steering wheel. According to Ford, the exhaust behaves like a “straight-through” system in Baja mode, but is intended for off-road use only. Sure…

To make sure the Ranger Raptor can handle both the extra firepower and off-road abuse, the chassis is greatly strengthened with unique mounts and structural reinforcements. Even the shock tower and rear shock brackets are much beefier this time to cope with the stress loads.

The suspension is completely redesigned with lightweight aluminium upper and lower control arms. The adaptive Fox shocks are the latest 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass absorbers filled with Teflon-infused oil that reduce friction by around 50% compared to the previous Raptor. These shocks are the most sophisticated units ever fitted on a Ranger.

Rebound characteristics, spring rates, ride height and valve tuning are all specially tuned to provide the best balance between on-road and off-road performance. The Raptor is now more planted and stable on paved roads, and Fox’s progressive Bottom-Out Control system prevents the pick-up from squatting under hard acceleration. There’s also a Watt’s linkage at the back.

For the first time, there’s an advanced permanent four-wheel drive system with a new electronically controlled two-speed transfer case. Both axles also get locking differentials, plus a new Trail Control, which is basically cruise control but for off-roading. It’s operable to a maximum speed of 32 km/h, and can be engaged when drivers want full concentration on manoeuvring challenging terrains.

In terms of design, the Raptor is evidently a Ranger on steroids. The bonnet is vented, the Ford lettering on the grille is bolder, and the wheel arches are flared out to accommodate the wider 17-inch wheels (beadlock wheels are available only for the Australian and New Zealand markets) with 33-inch BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tyres.

It features matrix LED headlights with dynamic bending lights and C-clamped DRLs as standard, LED tail lights, as well as redesigned Raptor-branded cast aluminium side steps. There’s some serious underbody protection too, courtesy of the 2.3 mm-thick high-strength steel bash plate. This protects key components like the radiator, steering system, front cross member, engine sump and front differential.

Functional bits include twin-rated tow hooks at the front and back for recovery, but details regarding towing and loading capacities have yet to be released.

Inside, the Raptor is kitted with all the latest toys such as the 12.4-inch customisable digital instrumentation, massive 12-inch portrait touchscreen display with SYNC 4A connectivity (wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard), Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, an electronic shifter and parking brake.

There’s a premium grade leather sports steering wheel with magnesium shift paddles and Raptor branding at the bottom, F22 fighter jet-inspired sports seats, and Code Orange accents all around, including a 12 o’ clock marker on the steering wheel. The ambient lights also cast an amber glow throughout the cabin.

Also available are six overhead-mounted auxiliary power switches. This handy system provides power for off-road lighting, air compressors or any other accessories that require power. Each switch can be hooked up to service a separate system, meaning you’ll be able to power six devices.

Ford didn’t go into details regarding the Raptor’s driving aids, but it did say the new pick-up was designed with the intent to set a high bar in driver assist technologies. Expect a minimum of Level 2 autonomous driving, no less.

“We knew that customers would expect improved performance with the next-gen Ranger Raptor, but I’m not sure they’re really expecting the enormous leap we’ve made. It’s a seriously fun car to drive and I think the raw performance is going to blow them away,” Burn said. Production will take place in Thailand, and first deliveries are expected to begin later this year. Pray we get the V6, boys and girls!