What do we think of the new Ford Bronco? Last week, Uncle Henry released details of a new retro off-roader, a Jeep Wrangler rival that sparks nostalgia in the US a bit like the Land Rover does over here.
Specifically, though, what do we think of the look of it? Ford has unashamedly pulled retro cues from the early Bronco. Which has inevitably sparked comparisons with the new Defender – a car that does contain themes from the original but is a more progressive, modern design.
If anything, the Bronco reminds me of Land Rover’s earlier DC100 concept, which the firm itself later deemed too comical, too much of a pastiche of the original. Ford took a similar ball and has run with it, while Land Rover evolved the Defender into something new – I think to make it look like it had never stopped being developed, as if it were a Porsche 911.
But what intrigues me more than what we think of these designs now is what we will think of them in future. It’s why I don’t dwell on design too much in features: partly because you can see the cars for yourself but mostly because attitudes change.
I remember being admonished for not writing what I thought of the McLaren MP4-12C’s styling in an early test by somebody who thought it “got better looking every day”. And there’s the crux: a design stays the same, but our perception of it doesn’t.
That’s why I already feel differently about the new Defender than I did when I first saw it. Yesterday, I saw a picture of a silver Defender on big wheels and it did precisely nothing for me. I then saw pictures of the Bronco and wanted one immediately.
Alas, because Ford’s fleet-average CO2 output is so close to the EU limit that we can’t even have a new Focus RS, we’re not going to get the Bronco. (Jeep buys enough CO2 ‘credits’ from Tesla that it can bring the Wrangler.)
But perhaps I could have a Land Rover Freelander – a car that, since the new Defender arrived, has done nothing but become more attractive. Which is weird. I always thought it was well designed, but it never sparked my curiosity like this before.
So my hunch is that it will change again, the new Defender’s more restrained appearance will work on me again and the Bronco’s might fade – although I’m not sure ever to levels of the Volkswagen New Beetle of the late 1990s, whose time is perhaps yet to come again.