Remember the Bronco? Let me remind you. Launched in 1966, Ford’s utility vehicle was a tough staple of America's working classes as well as having roll-on parts in TV series such as The Rockford Files. Big, tough and with rugged, old-fashioned body-on-frame construction and usually a V8 petrol engine, it went through five generations before being axed in 1996.
Still don't remember? OK, what about the white one in which OJ Simpson used as a getaway vehicle in the world’s slowest car chase in Los Angeles in June 1994? Now you know what we’re talking about.
Well, Ford has relaunched the Bronco 24 years after it went out of production at what will become known as the “Not The New York Show”, with a fanfare not normally afforded to a blue-collar, body-on-frame truck.
What with the similarly rugged Ineos Grenadier 4x4 and now the Bronco, you’d be mistaken for thinking that the car industry is moving backwards, since both are based on old-school separate chassis. In the case of the Bronco, that frame will also underpin the next-generation Ford Ranger pick-up.
There is progress here, however, because unlike the old Bronco (and the current Jeep Wrangler), the new Bronco will have independent front suspension and, whisper it, a hydraulically-controlled anti-roll bar and optional progressive Bilstein damping. In other words, it should get you across the field yet not shake your teeth out on the school run.
There’s no V8 option for the new model, though, just Ford’s ubiquitous 270bhp/310 lb ft 2.3-litre turbo four-cylinder and an optional 310bhp/400lb ft 2.7-litre turbo V6. There’s apparently no diesel option so Bronco owners will be buying a fair bit of fuel.
The four-cylinder car has a seven-speed manual gearbox, which has a very low crawler first gear ratio. Ford’s 10-speed automatic is an option; it’s standard on the V6. All Broncos are four-wheel drive with a choice of transfer boxes and optional electronic locking differentials.
Traditionally the Bronco was only available as a two-door truck, but the new model will be available with two and four doors. The interior is highly configurable and at least sponge-out, with all the modern accoutrements of connectivity and safety.
Back in the 1960s Ford coined a phrase Go Over Any Terrain (Goat) and this has been used as a mantra for the new car’s development, part of which has been done in the dry heat of the Johnson Valley in southern California where off-road enthusiasts compete on various courses known as ‘The Hammers’.
“The Bronco Sport has the toughness and smarts to help turn off-road novices into 4x4 pros,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s head of product development and the man who put the ‘Tang into Mustang’ when it was relaunched by Ford in 2005.
It will be built in America, in the same factory as it always was; Ford's Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne County. Prices are from $29,995 (currently £23,931). Although $100 (£79.78) will buy you a place in the queue, deliveries aren’t expected until next year.
And just like the original Bronco, Ford has no plans to offer it officially in Europe or the UK.
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