This has been in the pipeline for a while. FIAT will use its 500X, which is a 500L with all-wheel drive (AWD), to underpin the greatly anticipated baby Jeep. That means, as many automotive outlets predicted, the FIAT Panda’s platform will underpin the 500X, which will underpin this new, baby Jeep.
The Fast Lane Car has followed this story for a while, especially after we saw the new FIAT Panda (pictured).
- It should have a variation of the Panda 4X4’s traction setup. This should be an AWD vehicle that has permanent four-wheel traction via a electronically controlled coupling to two differentials. It electronically divvies the torque and traction to the wheels that need it seamlessly. It works with stability control and uses braking to slow the wheel with less traction while aiding those that have it. You can activate this function manually, if the need arises, via a button near the gear selector. This fully locked-up traction variation will only work at slow speeds. FIAT calls it, “Torque on Demand.” Chances are, the baby Jeep will have a more robust version verses the FIAT 500X’s setup.
- There’s a good chance that the same 1.4L MultiAir engine in the 500L that delivers 160 horsepower and 184 lbs-ft torque will be on tap. Let’s not forget, FIAT has some amazing little diesels that could make the 500X/baby Jeep a torque monster. A six speed automatic is a no-brainer; hopefully, a six-speed manual will make the cut as well.
- It will not be call “Patriot” or “Compass.” The brain-trust at Jeep is saving the name and its design for a reveal, possibly, for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI this January (which The Fast Lane Car will be covering).
- FIAT/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne made the announcement at the FIAT plant in Melfi, Italy (50 kilometers north of Potenza) with the Company Chairman John Elkann. They will invest $1.4 billion dollars into the plant so it can build both the FIAT 500X and this new baby Jeep side by side along with other models.
- The baby Jeep will be sold worldwide. Production is set to begin in 2014 at the Melfi plant in Italy. No word on shifting any of that production to the USA, but – as logic would dictate – it should depend on demand.
- I know you hate reading “baby Jeep” all the time, but that’s just what this vehicle is. Given the size of the FIAT 500X, this will be smaller than the Jeep Patriot in nearly every dimension.
The Fast Lane Car will keep you apprised as we get more information about this interesting little Jeep. Keep in mind: we live in Jeep country and the idea of having a turbocharged, rough-and-tumble Jeep-let is very appealing to me. Hopefully, we’ll get the inside poop at the 2013 NAIAS.
Check out this fun off road video!
I am truly excited to see what FIAT and Jeep come up with!