The Bronco is helping to keep the stick shift alive.
The manual gearbox isn't dead - its success simply depends on which car it is fitted to and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the region. Recently, Australia shelved the manual derivative of the BMW Z4 because a shocking two examples of the current-generation Z4 sold there had been manuals. The Ford Bronco - which plays in an entirely different segment, price range, and part of the world - couldn't be more different when it comes to stick shifts. In March, it was reported that a relatively healthy 18 percent of all Bronco orders were for derivatives equipped with the seven-speed manual. Well, that number has now increased to 25%.
Considering the overall demand for the new Bronco, it's telling that a quarter of all new models being ordered are for the manual. This is according to Mark Grueber, Bronco Brand Chief, who recently sat down for an interview with Ford Authority. The manual gearbox option is only compatible with the smaller 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder powerplant, not the more powerful 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, making the take rate of manuals particularly impressive. On the base Bronco two-door model, the ten-speed automatic gearbox will add $1,895 to the bill. That's money that could go towards any number of Bronco accessories.
Over 50% of Bronco buyers have ticked the box for the Sasquatch Package, a $4,995 option on the base model that adds a high clearance suspension and mud-terrain tires, to name a few. 73% of buyers also opted for the four-door model and 60% chose the V6 engine. Still, none of these numbers make us smile as much as the fact that so many Bronco buyers have chosen the manual gearbox.
It's encouraging news considering that Volkswagen seems to be preparing for the discontinuation of manual gearboxes from all its cars, and even the sporty new BMW 2 Series has ditched the manual. The Bronco may be a rugged SUV rather than an engaging sports car, but it's doing its bit to keep the stick shift alive.