The Chrysler Group’s 4x4 brand Jeep will broaden its model offering in 2013 to include a supermini-sized ‘B-segment’ SUV.
Jeep’s CEO Mike Manley told Autocar at the Geneva motor show “there’s definitely space in the market for a Jeep-brand B-segment SUV. We’re already working on a project that will meet that need, and expect to have the car on the road by 2013.”
Brit Manley suggested that Chrysler’s alliance with Fiat would be critical to providing engines and mechanicals for the rugged hatchback. Fiat’s 1.3- and 1.6-litre JDTm diesel engines, and it’s 1.4-litre MultiAir petrols, are favourite to power the car, most commonly with front-wheel drive; Fiat’s Grande Punto platform is likely to be adapted to underpin the car. However, the availability of four-wheel drive on range-topping models was described by Manley as “an absolute necessity.”
The new Jeep is likely to ape premium superminis like the Mini Cooper and Audi A1 with the length of its options list and the extent to which it can be customised to suit any taste. However, what Manley refers to as ‘the Wrangler bloodline’ will be very evident in the styling of the crossover hatchback: “imagine a slightly softer and smaller updated version of the Wrangler’s iconic grille and headlight design and you’ll have a good idea of how its front-end should look,” he said.
Jeep will hope that the new car can steal some of the success that the Nissan Juke is currently tapping into in the UK and around Europe, as well as attracting some younger clientele to the Jeep brand.
“It could be a breakthrough car in the US market as well,” said Manley. “At the moment, there’s little precedent for a subcompact SUVs selling in big numbers in North America, but we think that a car with the power of the Jeep brand behind it could be really popular.”
“I’ve already reviewed some designs for the car, and I’m very excited,” Manley went on. “This is going to be a very special car for us.”