That’s because if you’re looking for a template that Ford followed when it introduced the sixth-generation Bronco to the world last year, after a 26-year absence, you can look directly at the Wrangler – in ethos, size, design and even price.
The Wrangler is a niche car in the UK, but one that Jeep sells in quantities of more than 200,000 a year in the US, so you can see why it’s a market Ford thinks is worth entering.
More so, certainly, than if the new Bronco was a continuation of the earlier generations.
They were three-door and mostly hard-topped SUVs, with lift-off roofs that legislation around rear belts and high brake lights made trickier to remove over time, until it made more sense to buy a pick-up and put a hardtop back on.
The genre, in a big car, doesn’t much exist any more, so while you can have a new three-door Bronco with a removable top – hard or soft – this is now a full leisure 4x4 rather than a practical hauler.
The other body style has five doors and the same options for hard or soft roofs, just like the Wrangler. (There is also a smaller Bronco Sport, on a different platform.)
Engines are either a 2.3-litre ‘four’, or 2.7- and 3-litre V6s with up to 400bhp in ‘Raptor’ form.
That comes with the sort of visual upgrades that can lift the rest of the range, too.
Much like the Wrangler, the new Bronco is a car that thrives on accessories.
With big wheels, in the right colour, it appears the perfect retro off-roader that, hood off, would look totally at home in the California dunes or Arizona desert, if a bit more out of place in Northamptonshire.
That is partly why, if you want one, you’ll have to look further than a Ford dealer.
Broncos will officially come to left-hand-drive European markets in small numbers at the end of 2023, but are probably not destined for the UK.
Ours came via London importer Clive Sutton, which put it through individual vehicle approval to get it on the road (yours from around £50k).
We’d suggest that a rather more rugged spec is more easily destined for classic status, but, as with a Jeep, everything is upgradable later.
And in standard form it has the measure of the Wrangler, being quieter, smoother and more isolated from the road – although these things are relative: a monocoque SUV would be more refined than this body-on-chassis adventure wagon that comes into its own in the rough.
Which is what, even as a classic, may define it.
As with a Meyers Manx or an old Land-Rover, the Ford will have some appeal all the time, but truly charms when you get it in the right places.
Images: Luc Lacey
- Engine 2261cc turbo ‘four’; 270bhp @ 5500rpm; 309lb ft @ 3500rpm
- Transmission 10-speed auto, 4WD
- 0-60mph 8 secs (est)
- Top speed 120mph
- Mpg 28 (est)
- Price from £75,000
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