Rarely has a car looked as out of place as a Raptor in the English countryside. It’s the size of the thing. Its bonnet is as high as most cars’ rooflines. The front wishbones look like deckchairs. You can actually learn a useful amount about the Raptor just by driving somewhere in its vicinity.
From behind on a typical British B-road, you’ll see the wheels on the left side nudging up against the mud verge while those on the right roll over cat’s-eyes. It just doesn’t fit. And when you see it in your rear-view mirror, it looks so tall and so wide, and the front-end styling is so aggressive, that you would swear its driver was furious with you. Even from a respectable distance behind, the Raptor looks hostile, with a gaping snout so huge you fear it might swallow you and your car whole, or perhaps just drive right over the top of you.
Soon enough, you’re desperate to drive it yourself. Climb into the driver’s seat and see how everything inside is to scale. The oversized gearlever and big, toy-like buttons. The cubbyhole in the centre armrest that’s big enough for a crate of beer. But somehow – hilariously – rear leg room is actually quite tight. From up here, at this altitude, you look down on a Ford Ranger, the pick-up the Blue Oval actually does sell in the UK, like it’s something you would give your small child at Christmas.
With the steering wheel slung out on the left and the other side of the car such a long way off, you make steady progress at first. The steering itself is no better than adequate, so you continually make tiny corrections to keep the Raptor on its side of the white line. When anything bigger than a family hatch approaches, you involuntarily breathe in and wince, waiting for the impact.
But you get used to it. So you drive a little quicker. This car is built for racing through deserts. That’s why it has a Baja driving mode, complete with a little graphic that depicts a desert scene with a chequered flag. So you know it’s tough. But every time you rattle over a rough section of asphalt or through a pothole, the entire structure around you shudders and shakes and the rear suspension creaks and groans.
The frame is as strong as granite, but the separate body that sits on top of it feels wobbly. This model has suicide rear doors and therefore no B-pillars, which almost certainly doesn’t help.
By now you’ve knocked the Raptor into Sport mode, but it’s difficult to discern what’s changed. The V6 has the kind of tabletop torque curve that gives massive accelerative thrust even from very low engine speeds, but, with so much weight to shift, it never feels overwhelmingly strong. It’s quick, no doubt, but it’s quick in the way a charging bull is quick; surprisingly quick, alarmingly so, but not fast in overall terms