So why, then, do I absolutely adore it? Let’s start with what everyone sees - a colossal, absolutely unnecessary pick-up truck that’s all well and good pottering along an arrow-straight US highway but about as manoeuvrable as a HGV on tight, countryside lanes. However, it makes kids’ jaws drop and it channels the inner youngster in fully-grown men who just seem to love the idea of the Raptor.
Rangers are popular in their own right and aren’t exactly shrinking violets but the big, bad Raptor is a ridiculous 15 centimetres wider so its wheel arches don’t just look slightly extended, they’re absolutely massive. The chunky BF Goodrich tyres, the elevated, impossibly imposing stance and its quite frankly ridiculous length may make it an utter pain to park, but you’ll perform such mundane tasks with an immovable smile on your face.
It falls into the cult car bracket, rubbing shoulders with the terrible but hugely lovable Suzuki Jimny; the two outlandish versions of the Renaultsport Clio V6; multiple flawed-but-gorgeous GTA-badged Alfa Romeos and a whole host of other crazy cars we’ve forgiven over the years just because they have personality.
Step inside (by step, I do mean step - you climb onto a sill and hoist yourself up, HGV-style) and you’ll be shocked by the lack of quality in the £50,000 Raptor. There’s a typically large steering wheel with two enormous paddleshifters nestling behind, a chunky gearshifter, tacky metal-look dashboard panels and switchgear stolen from a late-90s Mondeo.
Start it up and you’d expect to hear a big V8, but the UK market’s Raptor is actually a diesel. Don’t fear because that promises good fuel economy, or so you’d think. It’s actually pretty woeful, but more about that later…
Slide the gearshifter to ‘D’ for drive and, if you’ve never driven a car fitted with tyres suited to off-roading, you’ll think something’s wrong. They scrabble for purchase on the asphalt and make a meal out of tight manoeuvres, slipping and protesting by way of a strange noise that makes pedestrians - if they weren’t already upon being confronted by such a behemoth - fear for their safety. But get past that initial worry and you’ll giggle at just how high up you are. The Raptor towers above even the biggest of SUVs; follow something like a Range Rover - by anyone’s standards a large car - and you’ll look down on its roof.
It’s a strange sensation and while the novelty never really waned over a week, it plays havoc with its driving traits. Steering feel, for instance, is non-existent. Its handling through corners is a bit of a hold-on-and-hope exercise, a real test of your mettle, as you just have to kind of pray that your request for it to turn right does eventually happen. The gearbox, as you’d expect with such a ludicrous amount of ratios, is just about always left searching for a gear. Even if you’re brave and opt to take the reins by using its hefty paddles, you need to be a World’s Strongest Man contender to enjoy their reluctant action. Tactile it is not.
Given its considerable bulk, the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which produces 210bhp thanks to the addition of two turbochargers, is surprisingly brisk thanks to its 400lb ft of torque. It’ll sit at 2,500rpm on the motorway but don’t expect to match Ford’s 30mpg claim - in reality 25mpg is tough to see - as it’s hardly an aerodynamic bit of kit. Evidence of this is when you let off the throttle and it feels like you’ve slammed the brakes on.
Its ride, however, is absolutely brilliant. It smoothens even the harshest of road surfaces out and doesn’t break a sweat, no matter what you throw at it. This is thanks to the Raptor’s eye-opening - and no doubt supremely costly - suspension set-up which consists of Fox Racing shock absorbers, forged aluminium arms to allow more spring movement and rear coilovers.
You can opt for multiple driving modes including one for grass, gravel and snow, another for mud, sand and rock and normal and sport before you get to the all-singing, all-dancing ‘Baja’ which is designed for covering off-road ground quickly, should Highways England ever turn the M1 into a dirt track. Get into the Raptor and it’ll be in its default rear-wheel drive mode, but four-wheel drive is a click away.
There are a few seats in the back, too, to help ferry passengers around but its interior is actually rather cramped. Peer inside its boot space and you’ll see why - its cavernous, two-metre-long rear deck could fit another six people in, it truly is that big. Just don’t put your weekly shopping in - a few bags will inevitably slide to the very back and you’ll have to be familiar with caving to retrieve them.
The fact that it’s arguably one of the worst cars I’ve ever driven but it still won a place in my hard-to-win heart says everything you need to know about it. Cult cars are never the best to drive but they’re absolutely always the coolest. Unforgivable traits in ‘normal’ cars, yet undoubtedly a mere quirk in something as loveable as the Raptor.
It’s far from perfect to drive - in fact it’s pretty horrendous on the road and especially so on a motorway commute thanks to its brick-like aerodynamism - but it’s a car that makes you forget every negative, somehow, because of how utterly unique it is. What a daft, pointless but fantastic thing it is to have in a motoring era cluttered with instantly forgettable vehicles.