Machine Design

Ford revives the Bronco

The Ford Bronco could be making a comeback.

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At the Detroit North American International Auto Show, Ford unveiled its Bronco concept, which takes exterior cues from the original 1965 version. But under the hood lies a 2.0-liter 16-valve turbo-diesel producing 128 hp and 244 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. A common-rail, fuel-injection system delivers fuel at 20,300 psi. Ford engineers didn't stop performance enhancements there. They gave the Bronco concept a nitrousoxide kick. A simple push of a button injects a stream of nitrous oxide into the cylinders, providing up to a 50-hp power boost.

A six-speed transmission carries a twin wet-clutch module that replaces a torque converter and uses hydraulic actuation. The wet-clutch module resembles a clutch on a manual transmission, but doesn't interrupt the flow of torque. The gears are arranged on two parallel shafts, called a dual-clutch layshaft. One clutch connects to odd gears, the other to even. While shifting is automatic, control paddles on the steering wheel let drivers "shift" in manual mode.

The Bronco concept carries an automatic Intelligent 4WD system, which makes its debut on the 2005 Escape. It uses a fully computer-controlled clutch that engages rear wheels only as needed. Sensors sit at each wheel as well as on the accelerator pedal. They feed data to a control module that calculates the data dozens of times per second and sends the appropriate torque to rear wheels. The Intelligent 4WD system is said to eliminate the stiffness felt during tight turns and harshness when engaging that are common with traditional 4WD systems.

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