Jeep Developing a Compact Crossover to Challenge Countryman

Discussion in 'Other Vehicles' started by Nathan, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

    Mar 30, 2009
    Short North
    +10,050 / 0 / -0
    Jeep’s upcoming B-segment crossover will be positioned squarely against the Mini Countryman, according to sources within Fiat and Chrysler. The baby Jeep, which is being referred to internally as the “SSâ€â€”that stands for super small or super sport, and we can guarantee it’s not going anywhere on a production vehicle—will be even smaller than the current Patriot and Compass.

    Chrysler’s engineers are busily preparing the vehicle, which will roughly match the dimensions of the Countryman, and we understand that management insists that the SS pack the off-roading capability that shoppers expect from something with the seven-slat grille. Even if the SS isn’t plastered with “Trail Rated†badges, that means it likely will need more ground clearance than the Countryman’s 5.9 inches.

    Design and engineering for this new wee Jeep are being spearheaded out of Detroit—even though, like the Patriot and Compass replacement, it’ll be based on a Fiat-sourced compact platform—but the Italian teams are becoming more and more involved. The Europeans do, after all, have more expertise in making the most of small vehicles. We are hearing there are two competing ideas for the SS’s design. One school of thought is to make the SS rounder and, in a sense, emulate the Countryman’s shape. The other school proposes a boxy design, more similar to Jeep’s own Wrangler. A similar debate took place when the Compass and Patriot were being developed, although both were given the green light in the end. Chrysler will settle on a final design for the SS relatively soon—and this time, only one design will get the nod.

    Like the Compass and Patriot, the SS will be offered with either front- or all-wheel drive, and the two-wheel-drive version is likely to have an electronic brake-based system that simulates a differential to help traction in the muck. We’ve also learned that the cheaper front-wheel-drive model could use a simple and cost-effective torsion-beam rear suspension, while the four-wheel-drive SS should get a multilink setup.

    With Tiny Car Comes Tiny Power

    Being a compact vehicle relying heavily on a Fiat-sourced platform, the Jeep SS will draw on Fiat’s powertrain department for motivation. The most likely choice is Fiat’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with MultiAir; in the Fiat 500, this engine is good for only 101 hp, so we expect that if this engine is selected for the SS, it’ll pack a turbocharger and produce between 130 and 170 hp. Outside the U.S., the SS could receive Fiat’s new 875-cc, two-cylinder TwinAir engine with about 100 hp on tap. We’ve also learned that the baby Jeep could pack Chrysler’s upcoming ZF-designed nine-speed automatic gearbox. (As we previously reported, this transmission is specifically being developed for cars with transversely mounted engines, and will appear in the next-generation compact Chrysler and Fiat vehicles.)

    We expect that the Jeep—whatever it’s eventually called—will hit the market in the second half of 2013. Fiat and Chrysler will have big expectations for its success; it’ll be the smallest Jeep yet, and the most fuel-efficient, too. Considering how well the Countryman has done for Mini, we think such a Jeep has a good shot at satisfying the suits in Auburn Hills.

    Source - Car & Driver

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