I TOOK a raptor to the West Coast of Scotland and it was welcomed with open arms – no it wasn’t a feathered type, but one that snarled its way around the Knoydart peninsula.

Ford’s striking looking Ranger Raptor is an imposing looking animal and its huge 33-inch tyres really made it ideal for handling the pretty rugged dirt tracks in the area and made surprisingly easy driving of the brilliant drive between Glasgow and Mallaig – and all with about a tonne on board.

If you bottom this one out, you really are in trouble as it has a ground clearance of 231mm and a wading depth of 850mm. It is pretty huge – no surprise given Ford’s track record in the home of the pick-up, the US – as it’s 168mm longer, 44mm wider and 52mm taller than a standard Ranger at 5363mm long and 2180mm wide. That makes it a big head-turner in town with everything from small boys to grandpas.

The engineers have sneaked into the Ford Performance parts bin to help achieve the muscular good looks and the drive train to match. It has, for instance, a specially designed bi-turbo version of the Ford 2.0-litre EcoBlue Diesel engine and that has been paired with a superb 10-speed automatic gearbox.

While Rangers further down the food chain used to get a choice of a 2.2 or 3.2-litre diesel, they also now get a version of this cutting edge 2.0-litre bi-turbo. In the Raptor it more than matches either of those with its 210bhp and a hefty pulling power of 500 Nm of torque. It’ll also meet the new stringent Euro 6.2 emissions standards by using AdBlue.

The Raptor does the 0-62mph in just over 10sec – but it does feel a bit better than that, plus there’s six electronic driving modes within the Terrain Management System, including settings for grass/gravel/snow and rock climbing.

Apart from the striking good looks, the real talking point is that advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission. It uses clever technology to adapt real-time shift-scheduling to enable the transmission to alter how it works to changing conditions.

That power even affords the driver the addition of paddle shifters – just why anyone would need them, is neither here nor there. In my mind, it’s a pretty pointless addition as the transmission is so good that you can trust it to do it all itself.

All the mechanicals sit on top of a unique to the Raptor ladder frame chassis made from high strength/low alloy steel to meet the tough demands of off-road performance driving.

And that’s where the ‘sports’ bar on the Raptor becomes ultra useful with its incorporated high-level lamp that enables you to access the load box in the dead of night.

It’s not all about being butch and fast, as it’s capable of carrying a standard euro pallet and the Raptor has a host of sturdy tie-down hooks, an integrated load rest and, on some models, exterior rope rails. For added security and peace of mind, the tailgate can be locked and unlocked manually.

Clever additional touches, such as an optional 240-volt power socket in the cab, are handy for re-charging work tools and the like and there’s an on-board trip computer which gives you useful facts and figures about your mileage, fuel consumption, speed and the outside air temperature.

It’s all pretty plush inside the cabin, where a mixture of leather and suede abounds, with contrast stitching and some obvious Raptor badging.

The new Raptor can also come with a FordPass Connect modem, which provides a range of invaluable benefits, including up to 4G Wi-Fi for a maximum of 10 devices, and real-time traffic updates delivered straight to the in-car navigation system.

This can be paired with your smartphone via the FordPass app and, once connected, you can unlock a range of features – you can use your phone to locate your vehicle, and lock, or unlock it remotely.

You can also monitor fuel level, mileage and tyre pressure, and get vehicle health alerts direct to your phone.

Now we come to the tricky bit. Because of the designs changes, the Raptor’s payload is much reduced from that of the standard Ranger’s – down by about a quarter of a tonne – which compromises any buyer’s ability to claim VAT back.

So, with a price tag of almost £50,000, that inability to claim VAT back will be a big decider on whether it sits in the farm yard or not. Also, the towing limit has been reduced from 3500kg to 2500kg, which again compromises its suitability for farmers.