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[NEWS] Ford Bronco

Ford Bronco

ford bronco 2023 review 001 ceach driving
Dearborn’s reborn off-road adventurer is now available in the UK as a grey import. Most likely works better overseas than it does here but is still good fun, if irrational

Given that Ford of Europe doesn’t have enough head room under its legislative CO2 emissions targets to make a new Focus RS, there’s no way it could officially offer a Jeep Wrangler-like SUV.But you can get a new Ford Bronco (unofficially imported) here if you ask the right dealer: London’s Clive Sutton, which is also big into the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Corvette.Unveiled in 2020, reviving a grand old name, the Bronco is a separate-chassis 4x4 that comes in two-door or four-door forms. There’s also the Bronco Sport, a very different, smaller, more road-focused unibody SUV.This ‘real’ Bronco’s chassis is derived from the Ranger pick-up truck, with a beam rear axle and independent front suspension.See it and a Wrangler pictured together (it has been out in America long enough for multi-car reviews) and you can see the extent to which it’s targeted at the Jeep. In four-door form, it’s 4.8m long and 1.9m wide.You can get a soft or hard top. They’re both rugged, separate- chassis cars with 2WD modes and 4WD with high and low ratios. The doors and roof come off. Even the tailgate swings open sideways.Jeep sells more than 200,000 Wranglers per year and does a pretty good line in parts, too, so you can see why Ford would fancy dropping a strong name into that class.The Bronco is a car built for adventures in the kind of space that Americans enjoy but of which we don’t have so much.The range is broad and Ford’s recommended starting price is less than $30,000 in the US, but dealers are charging a mark-up. They’ve taken 165,000 orders so far, so it’s in high demand.This Outer Banks edition is a sort of mid-range model, on more road-focused tyres than those above it – although, as with Jeeps, the more rugged they are, the better Broncos look (to my eyes, at least).It comes with a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine making 270bhp and driving through a 10-speed automatic gearbox. There’s also a 2.7-litre V6 and a manual option, plus a 3.0-litre performance Raptor is coming.Inside, our Bronco does looks the authentic rugged part. The driving position is sound, with an imperious view out punctuated by the bonnet grab handles – there for strapping on a roof-mounted kayak or mounting ‘limb risers’ (which move branches out of the way). All the active stuff.Plus, they make the car easy to place. The ergonomics are sound. There are separate chunky heating and ventilation controls and audio buttons, waterproof-looking rubberised switches, plus a modest touchscreen and a configurable digital instrument pack (whose dials could be rounder and clearer).There’s plenty of head room all around and netted storage pockets in the doors to prevent things from rattling about.The turbocharged four-cylinder engine starts to a refined idle, and brake modulation, creep and initial throttle response are easy. That’s the kind of thing that can really matter off road but makes mooching out of London traffic better, too.There’s a rounded edge to the ride and the medium-weighted steering is positive, with that pleasing Ford- like natural take-up of weight and response as you turn (which is what makes the Ranger one of the better pick-ups to drive).As with most proper modern 4x4s, there are driving modes, here called GOAT – for ‘goes over any terrain’ but also with the ‘greatest of all time’ and mountain goat vibes. Clever.Refinement is just about fine. Doubtless it would be better still with a hardtop, because this soft hood does feel a bit tenty on a motorway, while there’s a shimmy to the body over bumps at higher speeds.There’s no question as to the utilitarian nature of the car’s base. If you want a super-refined new SUV, think instead of the Land Rover Defender or even the Toyota Land Cruiser. The Bronco is a different sort of 4x4, a fun or adventure wagon with an 850mm wade depth and approach, breakover and departure angles of at least 35.5deg, 20.0deg and 29.7deg. It’s not strictly built for us, basically.To that end, by the time a Bronco has been brought to Britain and put through the IVA test to make it road- legal (and once everybody has made a bit of money, including quite notably the American dealer’s mark-up) and after Clive Sutton has given it a two- year warranty (it sets out to make buying and running a grey import as easy as owning an official one), it costs £45,000-£85,000, depending on the spec. This one costs £75,000.That’s rather more than you would pay for a Wrangler, but you can make a Rubicon cost £60,000, and such is the price of having an ‘it’ car. Either way, it’s posh-Defender money.It’s not easy to make a rational case for it – but since when has buying adventure cars been rational?

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