A small crossover/SUV based on a stretched version of the Fiat 500 platform will almost certainly be called the Jeepster when it is unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.
The town-and-around model borrows its name from the original Jeepster built in various forms between 1948-50 to trade on the reputation of the war-time Willys Jeep.
The name appeared again between 1966-72 on the Jeepster Commando and in 1999 at the Detroit motor show on a go-anywhere concept. British rock band T. Rex recorded a single titled ‘Jeepster’ in 1971.
Pototypes of the Fiat 500X/Jeepster have been spied for the past year testing in Europe, mostly in the heat of Spain and cold of Sweden. Almost all pictures from spy agency Automedia show what appears to be a high-riding five-door Fiat 500.
But leaked reports from inside FiatChrysler have it that the Jeepster will come with a more rugged look in keeping with the brand. All the company will say officially is: “It is too early to talk about Jeepster.”
Automedia says both the Fiat 500X and Jeepster will offer front-wheel and all-wheel drive and be powered by Fiat engines, including a 1.4-litre MultliAir turbocharged petrol unit delivering 120kW and a 1.6-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel with around 80kW.
The agency says Fiat/Chrysler has settled on a traditional automatic gearbox with torque converter rather than use the DuaLogic robotised manual found in Fiat’s small car line-up.
Both the 500X and Jeepster are expected to go into production later this year at Fiat’s Melfi plant in Italy. The company is targeting a combined output of 1600 vehicles a day.