Fact: a Ranger Wildtrak will show a Ranger Raptor a clean pair of heels – both use the new twin-turbo 2.0-litre but the Raptor weighs almost 150 kilos more and therefore has a lower power to weight ratio.
Raptor owners can at least site the Baja mode as a major point of difference – it is the setting you choose if you want to play cross-country racer and enjoy some air-time. A safe landing is ensured thanks to the coil-sprung rear axle and fancy Fox dampers…
With an RGMotorsport Stage One upgrade, the possibility of a longer flight path becomes a reality: numbers gleaned from RGMotorsport’s advanced all-wheel-drive dynamometer show substantial improvements in peak power and torque, and more user-friendly delivery curves.
As a result, Raptor owners are starting to seek out RGMotorsport, a Randburg-based tuner which over the course of almost three decades has earned a reputation for well-engineered conversions. This status has been built on motorsport success –no tuner can boast as many national championship circuit racing titles as RGMotorsport.
Peak power measured at a Raptor’s wheels goes from 157 kW to 180 kW (both at 3 000 rpm) but significantly, the modded version exceeds the stock value all the way from about 2 400 to 4 000. Peak torque rockets to 590 Nm at 1 500 rpm, and at 2 000 – where the stock motor has its 500 Nm max – there’s still 548 on hand. Another remarkable feature of the “after” graph is the progressive manner in which the torque tapers off between 3 000 and 4 000.
These gains are the result of carefully-matched hardware and software solutions to make the engine breathe far more efficiently – both in terms of getting more, cooler air into the combustion chambers and allowing hot air to escape as quickly as possible.
In the former instance a hand-made intercooler improves air flow and also controls temperature increase more effectively, with an RGM-Techniflow exhaust fulfils a similar role post-combustion. The upgrade includes the removal of the catalytic convertor and its replacement with a 76mm downpipe from the turbos. The remainder of the stainless steel system is of the same diameter all the way to the tailgate, significantly reducing back pressure.
Says Steve Green, RGM’s master tuner: “Tuning the Raptor to obtain increased power without sacrificing refinement – not to mention retaining similar fuel consumption in like-for-like driving – hasn’t been an easy task from a mapping point of view. In fact, it has been a project which kept our research and development team occupied for the best part of six months.
“A successful outcome has been made possible by two things: the expertise and experience of our team and the intelligence and programmability of the new Unichip X, the latest-generation piggyback computer from Dastek.”
Vehicle manufacturers go to great lengths to prevent any alterations to their electronics, tuning vehicles to a worst-case scenario and leaving a wide margin for unknown variables. It is this margin than a skilled tuner with suitable equipment (such as a modern, “load” dynamometer) can exploit. Nevertheless, OEMs continue to find new ways of denying access – and innovative software developers continue to find ways of sidestepping these measures. But not all techniques result in the same outcome, many aftermarket products overriding safety measures designed to protect the engine and/or gearbox.
“Importantly, the powerful processer in the X allows for myriad input signals to be monitored on a rolling road and adjusted with bespoke instruments, making this a true piggyback system,” explains Green. “Each parameter can be optimised for that specific engine and its uniqueness.”
This also means owners who make other mechanical changes down the line (or, for example, move to a location where a different fuel is available) can refresh the engine’s map as necessary. The power of the Unichip is also evident in the multiple maps that can be saved: there’s a valet mode, a low-output mode and an anti-theft mode.
“An overarching objective at RGMotorsport has always been to maintain both reliability and driveability in the pursuit of added power,” adds RGMotorsport’s founder Rob Green. “The advances with the latest Unichip model makes this possible. The fact that it also uses the new EasyConnect integrated wiring loom – which means not a single wire has to be cut as part of the installation – makes it both easy to install and completely reversible. With the harness removed and the various plugs connected as per factory spec, the vehicle is back to standard and the fact that a piggyback was once fitted would be undetectable.”
The RGM Stage One Raptor kit comprises 76mm Techniflow exhaust/downpipe, custom-built intercooler, cotton gauze performance air filter, Unichip X with EasyConnect harness, and a custom-tuning session. The upgrade comes with a six-month, 20 000 km warranty.
Pricing is R33 000, including VAT.