F-150 Raptor R Mods from VMP Tuning | Exploring the Limits of the OEM Calibration at 5 Star Tuning
There’re few things we love more than being on the cutting edge of performance innovation and development. There’s something about this (paraphrased) series of lines from Jeremy Irons’ character in the film Margin Call that resonates with us …. “There’s three ways to make a living in this business; be first, be smarter, or cheat… and it sure is a hell of a lot easier to just be first.” That’s the basic philosophy that has lead our in our Bronco Raptor build, and today we’re carrying it forward in the realm of the F-150 Raptor R.
The R-R is Ford Performance’s latest creation, which combines the body and running gear of a Raptor 37 with the power plant of an S550 GT500 Mustang. The addition of the 5.2L Supercharged V8 engine has propelled the Raptor R to the top of the list of Ford’s I’d love to own. However, that’s a story for another day in the very near future. Today we have an R strapped to 5 Star Tuning’s dyno for some cutting edge testing of VMP Performance Predator Supercharger System Upgrades.
Behold!!! The Predator engine at the heart of the Raptor R makes this truck the Raptor food-chain.
We’ve shown off VMP’s Apex Predator blower lid and race intercooler core in the past, but today we were going to be testing them (along with some smaller blower pulleys) on a truck. The test subject belongs to a very happy owner from Upstate South Carolina. He has made several tasteful modifications; including color coordinating Line-X coating on several exterior components and a mild lift. Still, every supercharged V8 could use a little more power and the Predator is no exception.
Lessons from the GT500 have taught us that the Raptor R’s 5.2L V8 is very susceptible to heat soak. Ford simply did not build enough head-room into the intercooling system to cope with sustained high-boost running. GT500s exhibit this shortcoming on longer WOT pulls and spirited open-tracking (especially on hot days). Since the Raptor R makes more boost and weighs 1500 pounds more than a GT500, we suspected we’d see IATs climb even faster in the truck. That’s before we even start to talk about towing.
VMP has remained at the forefront of Predator TVS Supercharger improvements since the beginning.
VMP’s Apex Predator blower lid and race intercooler core are a potent combination that have been shown on GT500 Predator engines to lower IATs upwards of 20°F (a 50% reduction in IAT rise) while increasing power to the tune of ~40 RWHP. Though the factory Ford system is robustly designed, it does leave a lot of meat on the bone for those looking to increase performance. We’ve covered VMP’s engineering philosophy and design improvements in other articles (in much greater detail) here on SVTP, and you can check them by checking out this vid:
All that led to an interesting team-up where VMP sent over an Apex Predator blower lid and race intercooler core to 5 Star Tuning, so they can test the setup on a customer’s F-150 Raptor R. We started the day off by getting a baseline dyno pull, then started adding parts.
Out with the old, in with the upgrades.
This shows why it's a good idea to install an oil separator on these engines.
As you can see, the VMP Lid features far more extensive air flow directing features than the factory piece.
Can you spot the differences between the factory intercooler core and the VMP one???
Not only is the VMP Race Intercooler Core physically larger than the factory piece, the VMP core material is also more efficient.
Without any performance mods and on a tank of fresh 93, the R made ~630HP and 560TQ to the wheels. When we moved from the factory 3.0-inch blower pulley to a VMP 2.8-inch pulley, we saw essentially the same numbers. Dropping down to a 2.7-inch top pulley, the 5.2L again produced similar results. However, we were starting to send an interesting trend in the shape of the dyno curves. This video tells the full story:
After making some modest, no tune, gains under the curve with the VMP pulley combos it was time to install the Apex Predator lid and race intercooler core. These parts are very nicely made, and though fitment is a bit snug, they do fit nicely on the Raptor R’s 5.2L V8. The biggest trick of the install is getting the lid to slide between the intercooler brick and the cab cowl, but coming at it from the right angle/direction makes all the difference in the world. Once everything was buttoned back up and the cooling system was properly refilled, we made a final series of pulls. The net result of the VMP 2.7 Pulley with the Apex Predator lid and Race Intercooler core was essentially the same peak numbers we’ve been seeing all day, 630HP and 560 lb-ft.
However, the Predator engine was now making that power significantly earlier in the RPM range. The package wants to make power. All the ingredients are there. It’s just being held back by the factory calibration. As mentioned before, all these pulls unfortunately have to be made without any custom tuning. At present, no company has custom tuning support for the Raptor R. However, I have spoken to some engineers at SCT and it looks like they will have coverage for that application in the near future. Rest assured, when they do we will have some updated power numbers for you.
Ultimately, we are being completely hamstrung by the factory tuning. It appears to have a load calculation based limiter that targets a specific torque number. No matter what we tried, we never were really able to break past about 630 RWHP. I even tried pulling the air box lid, which I know from experience on Predator powered GT500s can show gains upwards of 65 RWHP on a dyno. The R still made peak numbers in the 630 RWHP range.
All buttoned up, this is a really good looking setup. If you would like, you can reinstall the factory decoration plates onto the VMP lid.
However, the real story can be found under the peak power curve. The Predator engine was reacting to nearly every modification we made. As the mods stacked up, it would simply hit its 630 HP software-limited maximum earlier in the RPM range. If you look closely as the top of the curve, you can actually see a dip (the limiter kicking in) even on the factory set up. What this tells us is that the Raptor R needs some custom tuning. I’ve been in conversation with SCT, and they have plans to release coverage for the R in the near future. I suspect this package will show massive gains with the aid of an ECU flash.
The dyno chart tells the story. The VMP parts are putting it work, but the factory tune kneecaps the performance the engine is capable of right out of the gate.
We’ve seen similar parts combos from VMP make ~40RWHP on a GT500, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the results may be even better on a Raptor R. The built in torque calculation based load limiters in the OEM R calibration seem to kick in significantly more aggressively than the Predator cal in the GT500. But unfortunately, that’s where we have to leave this one for now. We have a VMP parts combo when know works on a GT500, and we can see it working on the Raptor R on 5 Star Tuning’s dyno. However, without the aid of custom tuning we can’t give you final numbers. You can count on us revisiting this one as soon as custom tuning coverage is released for the Raptor R.