2021 Ford Bronco Sport debuts as Bronco’s baby brother

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Interested a new Ford Bronco, but find its body-on-frame, boxy design too hardcore? The Ford Bronco Sport may be for you.

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Pitched as a bridge between the full-fat Bronco and conventional mid-size SUVs such as Ford’s own Escape, the Bronco Sport adopts a boxy design with a raft of styling cues inspited its bigger brother.

Up front sits a full-width rectangular grille with BRONCO lettering and circular LED headlights, down the side there’s a steeply-raked C-pillar and strong body lines, while at the rear highlights include ‘BRONCO SPORT’ badging and upright LED tail-lights.

Despite its rugged appearance, the Bronco Sport rides on Ford’s global, front-wheel-drive-based C2 platform, shared with the Focus hatchback and Escape mid-size SUV.

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It measures in at 4387mm long, 2088mm wide and 1783-1890mm tall (depending on accessories and tyres), with a 2670mm wheelbase. That’s 198mm shorter in overall length, 41mm shorter in wheelbase and 86mm narrower than the Escape, but a staggering 147mm taller.

Two engines are on offer. All variants bar Badlands and First Edition (more on the model range soon) are fitted exclusively with 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, producing an estimated 135kW of power and 257Nm of torque.

The aforementioned Badlands and First Edition grades score a brawnier 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, developing estimated outputs of 183kW and 373Nm.

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Both powerplants are mated to eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmissions, with the four-pot gaining wheel-mounted paddle shifters and an additional oil cooler.

If you’re into off-roading, now is the time to listen up.

All Bronco Sport models feature all-wheel-drive as standard, paired with five G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) modes that imitate its bigger brother: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand.

Top-spec Badlands and First Edition variants add Mud/Ruts and Rocks to the drive mode list, and bolster their all-wheel-drive systems with a twin-clutch rear drive unit featuring an inbuilt differential lock. They also gain more comprehensive underbody protection, larger monotube shocks and softer springs and anti-roll bars.

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Tyres on Badlands models measure 28.5 inches in diameter, which First Edition cars up to 29 inches.

Available on certain variants is an off-road cruise control system dubbed ‘Trail Control’, which can hold the vehicle at speeds of up to 32km/h going forwards or 10km/h in reverse. There’s also an optional off-road camera system that relays the feed from the car’s cameras to the infotainment system.

In its highest-spec, most off-road-focused configuration, the Bronco Sport boasts some competitive off-road stats: a 30.4-degree approach angle, 33.1-degree departure angle, 20.4-degree breakover angle, 224mm ground clearance and a 599mm water fording depth.

 

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Inside, the Bronco Sport features an overall look not too dissimilar from its C2 platform stablemates. In the centre of the dash is an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen running Ford’s Sync 3 operating system and featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also an Escape-inspired steering wheel, rotary gear selector and 6.5-inch digital instrument display.

Look closer and you’ll notice the baby Bronco’s interior has been designed with ruggedness in mind. Function-oriented changes include Molle webbing on the back of the front seats, zip-up pockets in the front seatbacks, an array of helpful storage cubbies and a built-in bottle opener in the rear cargo area.

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Speaking of the boot, highlights include a standard-fit rubberised rear cargo cover, available washable rubber flooring, a 400-watt inverter for powering electrical items and LED floodlights in the tailgate.

A 100-strong range of factory-backed accessories will be offered.

Available safety technologies include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-centering assist, evasive steering assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

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Five trim levels are on offer: Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands and First Edition. Prices in the US range from USD$28,155 (AUD$40,500) for the Base to USD$39,995 (AUD$57,500) for the 2000-unit-limited First Edition.

Sadly, as with its bigger sibling, the Bronco Sport won’t be coming to Australia.

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