The new baby Jeep has been trialing in the Scandanavian winter ahead of its unveiling at the Geneva motor show in March.
The so-called Jeepster is wrapped in a camouflage blanket in these photos from spy agency Automedia. Its photographers say the vehicle appears to have borrowed its design cues from the iconic Wrangler rather than the softer look of the new Cherokee.
Therefore, expect the boxy proportions shown here to carry over to the production model, as well as the round headlights, Jeep’s signature seven-bar grille, and squared wheel arches, to find their way into the final car.
The Jeepster is one of the first products from the FiatChrysler union. It will use Fiat Group’s small wide platform that underpins both the Fiat 500L and the 500MPW. Fiat will also produce its own compact crossover based on the platform, too, called the 500X. Both will be built in Fiat’s factory in Melfi, Italy, from the middle of this year.
Analysts say Jeep would not put its badge to any car that could not uphold the American brand’s ability to go off-road, so expect four-wheel drive and hill descent technology.
No engines have been announced yet, but the line-up is likely to include Fiat’s diesel and petrol options. On offer is a 1.6-litre Multijet diesel as well as a 2.0-litre diesel that might also be available in the Cherokee in NZ this year. Petrol plants run to a regular 1.4-litre unit and even the 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo. A manual box will be standard in some markets, although Jeep does have a nine-speed automatic.
The Fiat Group’s two-pronged assault on the compact SUV market is timely because the class is expected to double in size by 2017, thanks to increased demand from Europe and Asia.
The Jeepster and its off-road credentials offers something different from segment leaders like the front-drive Nissan Juke.
No word on price in NZ yet but British reports expect the new Jeep to cost roughly the equivalent of NZ$32,000.