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

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Ever since the Ford Bronco was unveiled for the American market, Europe has been lusting after the retro-modern Jeep Wrangler rival. Until, finally, in early 2023 Ford confirmed that it would bring the Bronco to some European markets – albeit, sadly only a few left-hand drive countries, with France and Germany likely to be the biggest markets.

But, the good news for those in the UK lusting after a Bronco is that you can get a new one (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.

The windows are frameless, which will make the doors lighter to lift off but harder to chain to a tree while you’re off adventuring

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, although this model won’t be coming to Europe, which will only get the four-door version complete in Outer Banks or ultimate, hardcore off-roading Badlands spec with a 2.7-litre V6 petrol engine.

Still, if you’re importing from America rather than Europe you can – of course – take your pick from the entire, full-fat, Bronco range. Even so, it is worth noting that there are persistent rumours of Ford making a right-hand drive Bronco for Australia (and other potentially relevant right-hand drive markets). For now, it’s a left-hooker or nothing. 

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Given how many SUVs are now over the 5.0-metre milestone, the Ford Bronco is almost mid-sized, at 4.8m long and 1.9m wide. All have 2WD modes, or 4WD with high and low ratios. The doors and roof come off - you can get a removable soft- or hard-top (hard top only in Europe) - and 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.

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). Americans can choose from a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine making 270bhp, a 330bhp 2.7-litre V6 and a 3.0-litre performance Raptor. Those European markets that get the Bronco must make do with the 2.7-litre, complete with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.


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Inside, the Bronco does look 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), and generally to enable all kinds of brilliantly aspirational outdoorsy stuff. Plus, they make the car easy to place on the road. Which is useful, as the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the cabin.

Still, 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. Two tall-ish adults will be fine in the back of the four-door Bronco, but legroom is compromised in the shorter wheelbase two-door Bronco so those same six-footers will still fit but with a bit of a squeeze.

The four-door Bronco has a 471-litre boot, while the two-door has almost half that. Both have a side-opening, half-height tailgate, which is less useful than a traditional hatch as it takes up so much space when you swing it open. However, the rear window top-hinges and swings upwards, and of course takes up less height than a normal hatchback - so you can chuck lighter stuff in the rubber-lined boot quite easily.

Not only that, but there’s a ‘slide-out load floor’ that you pull from beneath the boot floor to create a perch (very Range Rover split tailgate-esque) at the back. Cute, and genuinely useful if you’re going to take your Bronco to remote areas where seating options are either in the car or on the ground.


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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.

Similarly, the 2.7 is easy to modulate and has plenty of response when you ask for it, and manages 0-62mph in 6.7sec – the 2.3-litre in the same, hefty Outer Banks guise will be closer to 8.0sec. Not that the Bronco is in any way about acceleration, but the 2.7-litre that serves European markets certainly hauls the Bronco along swiftly enough. More importantly, the 415lb ft also brings masses of low-down urge, and works brilliantly for heavy duty off-roading or towing.

Talking of towing - the Bronco will pull 1500 – 2000kg depending on trim and model. That’s whelming, to say the least, given that the Jeep Wrangler will pull 2,456kg and the Land Rover Defender will tow up to 3,500kg.

The 10-speed automatic transmission is smooth enough, but on road it can feel like this many ratios is a couple too many as it seems to be changing gear more often than it isn’t, anywhere other than on the motorway.

There’s no question as to the utilitarian nature of the Bronco. 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, but it will certainly go – within reason - wherever you want it to go. And you’ll have loads of fun while you do it.


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The Bronco has medium-weighted steering that feels positive, with that pleasing, natural take-up of weight and response that Ford always does so well. In fact, the Bronco handles on-road stuff with more sophistication than you might imagine. Sure, there’s some heavy body lean and suspension heave, but it’s a usefully better on-road car than a Wrangler even if the Land Rover Defender is easily the most civilised of these ‘heavy duty’ lifestyle off-roaders.

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, even with the soft hood on. It does feel a bit tenty, and a brief drive in the Bronco Outer Banks with the removable hard top in place proves that it is the better option if you plan on doing any sort of routine mileage; usefully quieter and more civilised (if you can call any Bronco that).

Ride comfort is predictably lumpy but there’s not as much damper rebound as you’d imagine, and while you can feel the Bronco’s suspension working constantly it’s not an intrusive, tiresome experience. Let’s face it – a vehicle with this amount of spring travel is never going to be an excellent road car but the Ford makes a good fist of keeping things reasonably tidy.

If you do want a go-anywhere, adventure SUV that’s also good for the school run and weekly grocery shop, it’s the Land Rover Defender that you want.

Yet the Land Rover is also so good on road that it feels almost like most other super-polished premiums SUVs. The Ford is a very different character of vehicle that deliberately shuns hi-tech finishes and polished dynamics. This is about embracing the outdoor experience in all its muddy, wobbly, messy, noisy glory. The scrappy, rough edges of its dynamics are precisely what make it so addictively fun.


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I mean, if you were expecting great MPG then you’re in the wrong review. If you really want the Bronco – and who on earth doesn’t want a Bronco? – then real-world mpg of 25mpg or less isn’t going to put you off.

However, getting a Bronco to the UK is not an easy task. 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.


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It’s not easy to make a rational case for the Ford Bronco. There’s that awkward import status, lack of right-hand drive and high costs. But it does look flat-out awesome, and it’s a cathartic, messy joy to drive on- or off-road; a memory-maker, no matter how you plan to use it. Of course a Defender is a far more logical and objectively recommendable purchase, as is the Wrangler given that the steering wheel is on the correct side of the car. But who cares?

If we disregarded all of the sensible stuff – small things like money, rival cars and ease of getting one on your driveway – and just rated the Ford on how cool it is, and how much we all want one, we’d have given it five stars all day long. So, if you’ve got the cash and you want a Bronco, get a Bronco. The joy you’ll be spreading is well worth it.