When Ford made the Ranger Raptor, they had hardcore off-roading in mind – and when you’re off-roading it’s easy to get carried away. If this happens you can easily get lost.

To stop Ranger Raptor customers getting lost in the desert, Ford have integrated a breadcrumb feature where when it’s off-road, it drops a pin in the map every second, enabling you to retrace your steps accurately when the time comes to take to the tarmac once again.

Pretty cool, eh?

For years, Ford’s Raptor nomenclature has referred exclusively to the too-big-for-Britian F150 truck. But last year it was announced that the company was getting set to give the Raptor treatment to the Ranger, too.

And now we’ve driven it.

With uprated Fox shocks and a dedicated Baja mode for dune-bashing and high-speed off-road exploits, the Ranger Raptor is a certified thrill seeker. Safe to say that on an introductory test drive in West Sussex, we didn’t come close to exploiting its full skill set.

One of the key factors in the Raptor’s character is its engine. Ford has introduced a 2.0-litre four-pot diesel across the whole of the Ranger line-up; this is smaller than either the 2.2 or 3.2-litre units which have been available on the current model since its launch in 2012, which was met with groans – but if any manufacturer knows how to get more from less, Ford’s recent record suggests it’s the one.

Under the Raptor’s bonnet, you’ll find the range-topping bi-turbo version of the 2.0-litre engine. This has 210bhp and 369lbf.ft – figures that surpass those of the much-revered 3.2-litre from the previous Wildtrak.

You’ll gain access to the engine’s torque slightly later, with max shove coming between 1750 and 2000rpm. Peak power is reached further up, too, at 3750rpm (3000 for the 3.2). We like stuff to happen at low revs, but we like torque and power wherever we find them so Ford’s downsizing may not be a case of doom and gloom after all.

And it isn’t.

But it’s not a roaring success either.

Sadly, we didn’t have any dunes off of which to launch our Raptor. The track we were given to drive on was more like a green lane, with a few rough straights to fly down – and it was here that the power plant felt most at home.

Up and down various climbs, it felt like the unit was being worked hard. To us, certainly, it doesn’t have the same easy-going nature as the 3.2. With a 10-speed automatic gearbox as standard, it takes a bit of a stamp on the pedal to eke any urgency out of the motor – it does respond with some decent poke, but you do need a heavy foot with which to extract it.

This translates on to the road too. The twin-turbo unit is more than comfortable at a cruise and is actually remarkably quiet, but the power still doesn’t feel forthcoming from low down.

The suspension on the Raptor, however, is wholly impressive. The set-up is independent at the front, with a multilink solid axle at the back and truly wonderful Fox 2.5” internal bypass shocks on all four corners. These do result in a ride that is on the firm side, but the control and adaptability they offer is immense – and ride-wise, it refrains from ever crashing about and always keeps on the good side of your spine.

This is the case both on and off-road, where it’s particularly impressive is when you’re battering down a trail at the sort of pace you just wouldn’t use on a green lane. You’re well aware of the obstacles beneath you, but the Fox shocks revel in suppressing the impacts they create.

You’re also treated to a comfortable time on the road, which is good because the Raptor cabin is a sophisticated place to be. You’ve got well sculpted suede and leather seats; Ford’s latest SYNC3 multimedia system, complete with an 8.0”-inch touchscreen, adaptive cruise control and a FordPass Connect Wi-Fi modem.

It’s difficult to make a conclusion on the Raptor as a dune-basher, as we didn’t get chance to, well, bash any dunes. What we can say, though, is that with its strengthened chassis, and in particular those Fox shockers, it feels ready for anything. You can tell, even at low speeds, that you’re riding on a sophisticated yet heavy-duty suspension set-up – which of course just makes you want to push it harder. As pick-ups go, it’s a definite driver’s truck.

The Raptor’s suspension is outstanding, for sure – so much so that it goes a long way to making up for the vehicle’s somewhat hot and cold engine. We do feel a bit harsh to be criticising the latter, however, as it does a good job overall. Certainly, had the old 3.2 not have been viewed so fondly for so long, there would be no complaints.

There’s a suite of driver aids which means that piloting the Raptor both on and off the blacktop is a doddle. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, cruise-managed hill descent control and hill hold are all worthwhile additions that go a long way to making the Raptor effortless to manage.

Without a more comprehensive drive of the Raptor, we can’t yet deliver a complete verdict. It’s a super-truck, however – that much is clear. And so too, to us, was the fact that after just the briefest of times behind the wheel, it’s a pick-up that’s capable of much, much more.

Read the full First Drive account in the September issue of 4×4, out 6th August.

Nissan have detailed further the specifications of the soon-to-be-updated Navara, with more depth on the economy, infotainment tech and the specifications of different trim levels.

The engine available with the updates – the same 2.3-litre unit in either 163 or 190bhp – is more economical than before, with a 40.9mpg return attainable on a combined cycle(NEDC).

Suspension changes have been made to allow easier to handle steering, plus the five-link rear setup is standard across all models now, having been added for KingCab body styles.

A swathe of advanced connectivity also makes the Navara a sturdy workhorse at the same time as being a truly modern vehicle. There’s NissanConnect with Alliance in-Vehicle Connectivity, the system upgrade also allows users to mirror their smartphone on the upsized 8-inch screen that is more responsive and features a clearer display. The Nissan Connect Services app is also now fitted, with built in 4G, TomTom maps with real-time, over the air updates and both Google satellite and Street View. The app also offers remote control of the horn and lights, plus a vehicle locator to help in Navara-heavy car parks, I guess… The system is also compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Standard wheel size on lower spec models is now 17-inch (rather than 16) with new 17 and 18″ designs, whilst high-spec models also get LED headlamps with a gloss black inner shell.

The new Navara is on sale now across Europe, with pricing kicking off at £21,850 as a CV for the KingCab variant.

 

Mitsubishi have thrown down the L200 Challenger – a special edition of the fifth-generation model.

Using the L200 Warrior as a start point, the new Challenger will be available in three body colours – white, grey and black – the latter of which match the finish of its 17-inch alloys and the detailing of the front grille and much of the exterior furnishings.

It will also match the black leather interior, which comprises electric driving seat, which is heated along with that for the front passenger. Other aspects include a 7″ screen which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, as well as having Mitsubishi’s Smartphone Link Display Audio system and DAB radio.

As with the Warrior models, standard equipment is high with reversing camera, LED DRLs and xenon headlights, automatic wipers plus lane departure warning, hill start assist and trailer stability assistance all as standard on Challenger trucks.

It also utilises Mitsubishi’s 180bhp diesel unit with Super-Select 4WD system and a towing capacity of 3.5-tonnes. It too retains the one-tonne payload, so can be registered as a commercial vehicle, whether the six-speed manual or the automatic transmission is optioned.

To get a Challenger onto the road as a commercial haunt, the manual will cost £27,705, with the automatic available for £29,105. The L200 Challenger is on sale now, and will crossover in showrooms with the new sixth-gen truck when that goes on sale in the autumn.

The D23 Nissan Navara is a good truck – which is just as well as the headlines of the new update are uniform suspension, a new manual gearbox, bigger brakes, engine upgrades and more tech as standard.

King Cab models will now feature the same multi-link suspension as used in the double cab models, which in turn has provided a 46kg increase in the payload of two-door trucks, with the rear also sitting 25mm higher.

The 163bhp engine is now fitted with two turbochargers, matching the tally of the 190bhp version, which has upped torque to 313lbf.ft, a digit increased by 16. An all-new six-speed transmission is joining the revised powertrain, with linger ratios and a shorter throw, meaning changes are less frequently required but more pleasant to enact.

Braking should be more assured in the updated Navara, with rear drums replaced for discs and callipers whilst the front discs are 4mm bigger. The results? a claimed 40% reduction in braking force.

Standard level equipment has increased with the update, N-Connecta models and above getting an eight-inch touchscreen to communicate the Nissan Connect entertainment system, with Apple CarPlay and mobile integration, whilst all models also get Trailer Sway Assist as standard.

Styling upgrades are limited on the new model, with new black bezel inlays for the LED headlights, plus new 17 and 18″ alloy designs.

Updated models go on sale from the 1st July, with the range kicking off with the manual King Chassis Cab Visia at £21,850 as a CV and topping out at £31,125 for the N-Guard double cab, again as a CV.

In rather surprising news, Skoda have revealed a pick-up truck.

The Mountiaq concept is a Kodiaq-based pick-up that is the culmination of this year’s work from the class of the Skoda Vocational School in Boleslav.

A team of 35 Skoda apprentices envisaged the truck, from the light bar on the roof, down to the winch and even the specific Sunset Orange paintwork.

It has taken the team of apprentices in excess of 2,000 hours over the last eight months to build the Mountiaq, with production starting in January. After the sketching phase was completed, the body was reinforced before the roof of the Kodiaq was removed and the tough work began. A new rear panel was then fashioned, along with new windows for the double-cab body type.

Another key component of such a shape is the truck-bed, which had to be designed and fabricated and took the overall length of the truck to a whisker under five metres. The bed includes a hidden storage compartment beneath the surface, and the longer and wider stance means that the doors were redesigned to fit, whilst both front and rear bumpers were modified – clearly, as the Kodiaq doesn’t come with a winch…

Ground clearance has been improved, tallying 29cm to the Kodiaq Scout’s 19, with the upsized 17″ Rockstar alloys and more aggressive tyres playing a part. The overall wheelbase is now 2.79-metres, whilst vehicle width is a touch over two metres and it stands at 1.71-metres tall.  A 190bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol powers the Mountiaq, which also has a snorkel, bullbar and specifically designed winch mount.

Inside, the Mountiaq features plenty of cool features. There’s a glowing Skoda logo in the headlining, a fridge, uniquely embroidered seats and a set of walkie talkies. interior highlights also match the exterior Sunset Orange.

Being students, they’ve also whacked a bigger sound system in there, adding 4,000 watts split evenly between an amplifier and subwoofer, whilst numerous facets of the car are suavely underlit to give it a real edge. The Skoda badge, engine bay, bed sills and radiator grille are all lit, whilst there’s Skoda branded puddle lights, too.

One thing is for sure: we wouldn’t mind a jot if this entered production…

The second special edition for the Mercedes-Benz X-Class has been released, with the ELEMENT Edition X 250d 4MATIC.

Based on the Progressive model, the posh pick-up comes with an enhanced equipment list along with custom graphics along the rear quarter.

This means that the truck comes with painted bumpers, a simulated underguard in matte black, aluminium door sills with Mercedes-Benz inscription, a matte silver finish grille, chromed door handles and the useful load securing rail system in the bed and heated side mirrors. The added kit on the ELEMENT Edition includes a black roof-liner, the Comfort Pack that includes Artico leather upholstery, a set of 19″ multi-spoke alloys, LED lights all around which, along with roof rails, privacy glass and running boards come as part of the Style Pack, a bed liner and sports bar along with the aforementioned special edition livery.

Paint options include Chisana White, or a metallic finish in Diamond Silver or Kabara Black. As with all X-Class models, standard equipment includes Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, Hill Start Assist, a reversing camera and stop/start function.

You can get your name down for an ELEMENT Edition at your local Mercedes-Benz Vans centre, with business users able to get behind the wheel for just £459 per month.

One of the strengths of the Isuzu D-Max is its ability to tow heavy stuff – 3.5 tonnes worth of heavy stuff.

The breakdown recovery specialists have paired with Isuzu and Strongs Plastic Products to adapt 50 D-Max models into the ultimate RAC patrol vehicle. Retaining the ability to carry the 500 parts and tools that are required by RAC mechanics, the D-Max also adds the new All-Wheels-Up recovery system, which brings flatbed recovery capability to the fleet of breakdown patrollers. There’s also space for the RAC’s EV Boost charging system for electric cars that fall flat.

Making the adaptations to the D-Max has lowered it’s towing capacity to a degree, but at a 2.8 tonne capacity the RAC Heavy Duty 4×4 Patrol Van will be able to cope with the overwhelming majority of cars and light commercial vehicles on the roads of Britain.

Strongs Plastic Products have designed and produced the new van bodyshell from a tough polymer plastic that combines high strength with low weight – something that is important in keeping the conversion as effective as possible. It accommodates all of the RACs paraphernalia – including the All-Wheels-Up tow system – and it comes with a 20-year guarantee. The plan is that the shells will be used on several vehicles throughout their lifetime with the RAC.

It’s become ritual for Isuzu to reveal a new special edition D-Max at the Commercial Vehicle show each year. but this year we’ve been treated to two.

But where to start?

After flipping a coin, it’s with the XTR. This striking truck, which is currently a prototype, is aimed at serving clientele who use their truck both for work, but also as a recreational off-roader. But how have they done this?

The D-Max XTR sits on a bespoke suspension and braking setup from specialists Pedders. This includes a new front upper arm that works in conjunction with freshly designed dampers that allow longer articulation. This means that the XTR sits higher than a stock D-Max, with 250mm ground clearance, but the system doesn’t compromise the handling performance of the truck on the road.

The brake discs have been bolstered at the front to performance numbers that champion consistent brake feel and are made to survive hard wear and combat corrosion. They’re fully vented and slotted for better heat dissipation and outright braking performance. The pads they work with are Kevlar ceramics, so you know they’re properly tough.

Both the springs and shocks are set up to provide a consistent and comfortable ride on road, and have been tuned with the XTR’s new wheels in mind. The 17″ XTR alloys have been designed to a popular tyre size – 17×8.5″ – to give XTR drivers plenty of choice if they choose a new set of tyres. Engineered to be tough, the alloys don’t affect the D-Max’s 3.5-tonne towing capacity nor it’s 1.1-tonne payload. The XTR is also the first truck to take the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres as standard.

No doubt you’ll have been taken aback by the styling of the XTR makeover, but let’s break it down. A dramatic front bumper guard, bonnet protection and headlight frames give the D-Max XTR a mean stare. Extended wheel arches add yet more attitude, finished in black with a vibrant green insert that matches the theme around the rest of the truck. Around the back, there are spoilers on both the tailgate and the rear bumper, whilst matching door mirror covers and door handles complete the look. Like the bodykit, the side-steps are Raptor-coated. The green highlights also appear on the brake calipers and selected suspension parts to add a flash of colour.

Inside, the XTR treatment continues, with the D-shaped suede and leather steering wheel featuring green stitching matches the grey leather, suede and durable carbon-fibre leather seating with the same accenting.

It’s not often that a truck with 35″ tyres is the subtler of a pair, but compared to the XTR, the Safir is just that. Based on the automatic D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 double cab, Safir is happy to let the XTR take the ooh’s and have the aah’s for itself.

Finished in the beautiful Sapphire Blue Mica paint, the Safir looks calm and collected with its silver sports bar, matching Mountain Top rollover cover and a Safir branded aluminium underguard.

It also has Lazer Lights set into the front bumper and on a roof-mounted light bar – which is brand new for the D-Max range. The 17″ alloys are AT numbers in a new Hyper Dark diamond cut finish.

Bespoke leather seating adorns the interior, with the headrest embroidered Arctic Trucks logo in a matching sapphire cotton that matches the overstitch about the rest of the interior. The Safir also features a D-shaped steering wheel and the infotainment system has been upgraded to a 9″ touchscreen with a nine-speaker sound system that includes a subwoofer. The upper glovebox contains a wireless mobile charging pad, and a bumper mounted front camera makes parking and manoeuvring a doddle.

The Safir, like the XTR, is covered by Isuzu’s 125,000 mile five year warranty, and also retains the towing and payload capacities of the work-happy D-Max.

Pricing for the special trucks begins at £33,999 for the D-Max XTR and £45,000 for the Safir as a Commercial Vehicle.

The XTR is expected in showrooms later this year, whilst to act on your interest in either truck you should contact your local Isuzu dealer.

An updated version of the Toyota Hilux Invincible X will be unveiled at the CV Show later this month.

Visual enhancements are centred around a deep two-tone theme – black and dark grey – and will be available exclusively in double-cab form. There’s a smoked grey chrome finish for the upper front grille surround, fog lamp bezels, door and tail handles and side mirror casings. It’s the same for the front and rear under-runs and rear bumper corners, too. Each axle is capped with two-tone, machine-finished 18″ alloys.

The cabin is black leather throughout, with leather and piano black inserts broken up with chrome detailing around the instrument panel. There has been a redesign to the driver’s binnacle, which now features a Hilux animation when the ignition is switched on. A new design also sits on the key, which is now model specific, with a silhouette sketch of the truck’s front facia now taking pride of place.

As of 2019, all Hilux models, not just the Invincible X, will be available with the Toyota Safety Sense package which adds a suite of advanced safety features. These include the Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection; Adaptive Cruise Control; Road Sign Assist and Lane Departure Alert. This will come into effect when the 2019 models go on sale in August, with more details on the Invincible X pricing expected nearer to the time.