The Ford Bronco hit the internet last night and the internet broke. From the automotive to the general press the Bronco is being hailed as exactly the type of product that people are looking for right now. Authentic and back to basics while still packing in the tech, the Bronco seemingly threads the needle perfectly in creating a retro vehicle that feels fresh and even futuristic. Something MINI did 20 years ago.
What can MINI learn? A lot given how right Ford got this truck. For starters the Bronco has leaned Into the authentic qualities that made enthusiasts love it for decades. That means features like a (7 speed) manual, removable doors and roof and serious off-road capability. But it’s the overall packaging that’s so appealing. The styling is not just retro but purpose driven and forwarding looking all at the same time.
It’s also rather minimal and unadorned. In other words nothing is there that isn’t doing something. There are no fake vents or unnecessary shapes. Ford is following the simple principles that created the original Bronco much like how MINI followed them from the classic to create the R50.
The good news is that MINI is pivoting into this direction. Head of MINI Design Oliver Heilmer has gone on record in saying that MINI will be moving away from superfluous design elements with a focus on authenticity and simplicity. Here’s Oliver saying it himself:
Reduction – leaving things out – is key for us here. But that in no way means going without or missing out. Rather, leaving out creates space for maximum emotionality. Instead of “What can we do more of?”, we’re focusing on “What is really necessary for the customer to be able to – and to really want to – form a personal bond with their MINI?”.
It sounds promising but the pressure will be on with the next generation MINIs to prove this out.
It also makes us think about the Countryman. MINI decided not to take a retro approach to the MINI crossover when it came out but did tease a variation harkened back to the original Austin Mini Beach. The 2009 Beachcomber concept was a brilliant idea that ultimately proved to be a little too risky for the decidedly conservative BMW.
I’ve always felt that MINI missed a huge opportunity with the Countryman’s design. They’ve moved far away from the original design DNA into something that feels much more timely. But in doing so they’ve created a handsome car that feels less unique and more aligned with the competition in overall shape and design. What the Bronco is showing us is that may not be the smartest way forward.
2021 Ford Bronco: Highlights
- Ford Bronco returns as the flagship of a new all-4×4 family of SUVs, with a classic two-door and a first-ever four-door; both are engineered with Built Wild Extreme Durability Testing, Capability and Innovative Design for segment-leading 4×4 capability, long-term off-road performance and dependability
- Bronco features powerful EcoBoost® engines with segment-exclusive 7-speed manual transmission and available 35-inch tires; Bronco excels with available best-in-class 94.75:1 crawl ratio, ground clearance, suspension travel and water fording capabilities, plus break-over and departure angles
- Bronco two-door and four-door models offer quick-release stowable roof panels and doors on select versions; available off- road drive technologies and segment-exclusive digital trail mapping allow owners to easily plan, record and share their experiences via an all-in-one app
- Like the MINI, the Bronco launches with more than 200 factory-backed aftermarket accessories for more capability, personalization and style, and with a base MSRP of $29,995; 2021 Bronco two- and four-door SUVs can be reserved at ford.com