Iconic off-road maker Jeep is working on getting a compact SUV to India. An SUV that will be a direct rival to the EcoSport, this new compact vehicle, however, will not just be a poser. "It will be a real Jeep," according to company boss Mike Manley, "and not something with a Jeep badge on the back. It will have real capability and be a true trail-rated vehicle, meaning it will have real off-road skills." The company acknowledges that the real challenge here will be packaging. Jamming in all the off-road hardware, making the car spacious on the inside and still keeping the car under four metres is not a challenge to be trifled with. It could mean the off-roader in question has quite an upright stance and making it ride and drive well in addition will be extremely challenging.
The small Jeep in question will slot in below the Renegade into the A or super-compact segment in Europe, and Jeep is keen to take the car to Brazil. The compact off-roader being worked on (codenamed Jeep 526) will share its underpinnings with a similar-size Fiat compact SUV, also very likely to make it to our market, and will come with Fiat engines and transmissions. Styling could follow the rectangular proportions of the Renegade and have clear echoes of the earliest Jeeps, especially the round headlamps and the seven-slot grille. Like the Compass, India is likely to be one of the first markets for this compact SUV and India could even be the mother plant for the same. To help drive down the price, Jeep could even leverage Tata and share the platform, engines and transmissions with them.
The compact SUV isn't expected anytime before 2018 and Jeep will need a stronger network to help serve such a car better.