The Ford Bronco retro-SUV is coming to Europe in late 2023 to take on the Land Rover Defender, the company has announced, but not everyone is going to be celebrating this Independence Day news.
Ford says “selected” European markets will get “limited numbers” of the off-roader, meaning some countries might not get any cars, and others might not have enough to go around.
But in a blow to Bronco fans in the UK and Australia, Ford has announced its hot SUV won’t be adapted for right-hand drive production, and so won’t get an official release there. Ford looked at RHD markets like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa and concluded there wasn’t enough demand to make it worthwhile tooling up for a Bronco with a steering wheel on the other side.
Speaking to Carscoops, a Ford UK spokesman said other than in exceptional circumstances like the the case of the Ford GT, it was policy not to sell left-hand drive vehicles through the franchised dealer network. That means Brits hoping to add a Bronco to their stable will have to import one directly from the U.S. or buy one from an independent dealer specializing in imports.
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Ford of Europe hasn’t revealed much information about the likely spec of the export Boncos in terms of engine choices and trim grades, but does say that all cars will be four-door versions. Judging by the list of standard equipment, which includes a 12-inch center touchscreen and fancy B&O Hi-Fi, it sounds like EU Broncos will be positioned as fairly expensive luxury SUVs with strong off-road qualities, which could put them head-to-head with the new Land Rover Defender.
Ford does says that both 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels will be available, as will a choice of a two-speed electronic transfer case that allows shifting between two- and four-wheel drive on the move, and an electromechanical version that can switch by itself when needed. You get Trail Control off-road cruise control, brake-actuated Trail Turn Assist for tight manoeuvres and a locking rear diff as standard at the back. But Europeans wanting a locking front differential or the anti-roll bar disconnect system for use on extreme trails will have to hit the options list.
And much like the U.S. options list, the European one will also feature stacks of adventure-themed kit including food tents, light bars, equipment carriers and washable seat trims. But we’ll have to wait until we’re closer to the late-2023 on-sale date to find out how much the export Bronco will cost and whether Europeans will only get the 300 hp (304 PS) 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four, or will be able to upgrade to the 330 hp (335 PS) 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6.