Jeep Confirms Plans For MINI Rival

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Fiat Panda Cross

Fiat Panda Cross

Just over a year ago there were reports suggesting Jeep was planning a new compact urban runabout based on the underpinnings of a Fiat model, most likely the Fiat Panda Cross pictured above. Those reports were then followed up by news that Fiat’s C-Evo platform, underpinning cars like the Fiat Bravo and Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchbacks, could also be used for a new compact Jeep model.

Now, during an interview at this week’s 2011 Geneva Motor Show, Jeep CEO Mike Manley revealed that a mini-Jeep model would be launched by 2013. The new model will compete in the B-segment, which means it will compete with models like the MINI Countryman and long-rumored Audi Q1 crossover.

 “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,” Manley revealed during an interview with Autocar.

Manley went on to reveal that Fiat’s small-car knowhow will be crucial to the development of the mini-Jeep. Some borrowed technology will include Fiat’s four-cylinder engine range and possibly the Fiat Grande Punto platform. Both front-wheel and all-wheel drive versions are expected.

Despite its Italian origins, the new model will unmistakably be a Jeep. The “Wrangler bloodline” will be very evident in the styling of the mini-Jeep, Manley explained, especially the Wrangler’s iconic grille and headlight design.

While the primary market for the mini-Jeep will be Europe, a U.S. launch is likely given the popularity of models like the MINI Countryman and even the Nissan Juke. Where Jeep hopes to compete is with a long list of standard appointments and the brand’s recognition for ruggedness.

[Autocar]
 
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