The departure of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Volkswagen Amarok from the market has been interpreted as a sign that the luxury pick-up sector has had its day.

Ford, however, has other ideas: the Raptor perches proudly at the top of the Ranger line-up with a jaw-dropping price tag of £50,289, including VAT.

The Raptor does not qualify for exemption from the tax because its payload falls well below the 1.0t threshold at just 620kg.

So this is not a truck you’re likely to spot getting down and dirty on the farmyard or putting in a shift on the building site. Its maximum braked trailer weight of 2,500kg (1,000kg less than the regular Ranger) is more likely to be put to use to tow a speedboat, trial bike or a couple of canoes. Nevertheless, as we discovered, it can be put to more humdrum practical use: the carry bars in the load bed can come in handy to tether push bikes to, and the bed itself can accommodate a fair amount of garden waste.

The Raptor is an imposing-looking beast. It’s 168mm wider and 44mm longer than the standard Ranger, making it just over 2.0m wide and nearly 5.3m long. Ground clearance has also been raised to 283mm, an increase of 51mm, with the overall height of the vehicle now 1,873mm thanks to the 30% increase in ride height.

Its higher stance on the road also means the approach and departure angles have increased to 32° and 24° respectively – 3° more than the standard truck. Other changes include the giant ‘Ford’ lettering in the grille, which echoes its American cousin the F150 Raptor, as well as the large alloy running boards along the side of the truck, which are a handy aid to getting in and out of the cab.

The huge wheel arch extensions and outsize all-terrain tyres add to the visual impact.

The Raptor’s beefed-up suspension comes courtesy of Fox Racing shock absorbers that have position-sensitive damping, which allows 30% more suspension travel than in the standard pick-up. This combines with a Watts link coil-sprung rear suspension to improve road handling and comfort.

The terrain management system with six selectable drive modes means the Raptor is ready for pretty much anything off-road and, as we have discovered in previous encounters with the truck, it is in its element off the beaten track, where it is an awesome performer, particularly when driven at high speed.

This time, however, we tested the Raptor in the city and out on the open road with tarmac beneath its 17in alloy wheels.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Raptor does not boast a halo engine but makes do with the 2.0-litre Ecoblue that serves the full Ranger line-up, albeit with the maximum 213hp on tap. A commanding driving position affords a good view of your surroundings in urban environments, and while other road users give the big truck plenty of respect the Raptor is a pleasantly docile beast about town, where it is frequently confined to 20mph. The ride is comfortable and the level of refinement is impressive, with generous servings of suede and leather in the stylish interior. Worthy of particular praise is the first-rate rear-view camera that appears in the 8in touchscreen when you engage reverse gear. The instrument panel cluster is clearly laid out and rain-sensitive wipers combine with a heated windscreen and rear window to maintain clear vision when the heavens open. The collision mitigation system can be overzealous, flashing and bleeping unnecessarily as you drive pass parked vehicles with no danger of colliding with oncoming traffic, and the barked ‘caution!’ speed limit warning is an irritation too.

Out on the open road we found the engine keen enough and the steering sharp and responsive, while the 10-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly in all conditions. The only time the big truck felt slightly out of its comfort zone was when pushed hard along winding country lanes.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Price (inc VAT): £50,289

Price range (ex VAT): £21,346-£50,289 (inc VAT)

Insurance group: 45E

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000mls

Service intervals: 2yrs/12,500mls + annual inspection

Load length: 1,575mm

Load width (min/max): 1,139/1,560mm 

Load bay height: 561mm

Gross payload: 620kg

Load volume: n/a

Engine size/power: 1,996cc/213hp

Combined fuel economy: 31.7mpg

CO2: 233g/km