Jeep is boosting the unveil of its all-new JL Wrangler with five design concepts based on the rugged off-roader. They will soon be revealed at the Easter Safari meet in Moab, North America.
Four of the Wrangler concepts were designed by Jeep at its Auburn Hills ‘Design Dome', under design chief Mark Allen. These concepts take the 4x4 in a new direction, while a Renegade, Wagoneer and other Wrangler concepts focus on Mopar tuning and aftermarket kits. “For us, the Wrangler is the nucleus of everything that Jeep does. Everything comes from the Wrangler,” says Allen.
Owing to the thousands of owners that descend on the famous trails every year, Jeep has made the Easter meet at Moab a focus for its design concepts. Showing them at Moab, as opposed to glitzy motorshows, is seen as a better way for the carmaker to target Jeep owners and potential buyers specifically – a policy understood to be pushed by FCA boss Sergio Marchionne.
The Sandstorm is the most radical of Jeep’s Moab Wrangler concepts. It is a Baja desert-racer with a cut-down body, smaller rear doors and high-articulation off-road axles, claimed to give 14 inches of front travel and 18 inches, at the rear. Power comes from a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 and sand-grip 39-inch OD tyres help transmit the power to the ground. “We have really gone to town with the Sandstorm and created a real high-performance off-road Wrangler,” says Jeep boss, Michael Manley.
Lightened by 431kg, the 4Speed is a speedier, more nimble Wrangler inspired by earlier lightweight concepts; namely: the Stitch (2013) and Pork Chop (2011). The HVAC and radio are removed and have been replaced by a carbon-fibre bonnet and wheel arches. The roll-cage is fashioned from thin-wall cro-moly tubing. Power comes from the Wrangler’s new 2.0-litre turbo with 48V mild hybrid tech, which delivers higher performance, courtesy of the reduced kerb weight.
The Renegade based B-Ute is named after a play-on-words of the 4x4’s internal codename – BU. Based on the off-road-focused Trailhawk model, it features a 1.5-inch suspension lift and disconnected front sway bars to improve off-road rock crawling. “This is a modern military look,” says design chief Allen. Inside, the luggage compartment is fitted out with military-style MOLLE universal equipment hangers.
An all-new Wagoner is not far off, so as a styling and brand exercise Jeep has renovated a 1965 Wagoneer and updated it in an “Americana road trip style”. A rust-free donor car was sourced in California, stripped to a bare shell and the chassis boxed-in to boost rigidity. With new coil springs replacing the original leaf suspension, new steering and modern disc brakes, Jeep prepped the Wagoneer for a 5.7-litre Hemi ‘crate’ engine, normally found under the hood of RAM trucks.
Being the most realistic of all Jeep’s Moab concepts, all the bits on the Nacho can be sourced from Jeep Mopar dealers. Jeep says the whole kit of parts is priced from around $14,000 (around Rs 9.1 lakh) to fit on the two-door Rubicon donor car. To boost off-road performance, the Nacho benefits from a 2-inch lift kit, 37-inch OD off-road tyres and 2.5-inch Fox off-road shocks. The tube doors, all-weather mats and the fuel-filler door boost the looks. The extensive spotlight system is a prototype developed with Magnetti-Marelli.
The J-Wagon is based on a Wrangler Sahara. This car is intended to add an urban look to the line while retaining off-road performance. The bigger off-road tyres lift the chassis, while the raised intake stops dust entering the inlet of the J-wagon’s 3.6-litre V6. In addition to this, the new front wings from the Rubicon model boost the J-Wagon's trail performance. The paint job is known as 'brass monkey'. “The colour scheme is warm grey with orange highlights, for that urban style,” says Mopar boss, Joe Danaher.
The second-most extreme Wrangler to be shown at Moab, the Jeepster features a 2-inch roof chop and a 2.5-degree screen lay-back to re-create the ‘speedy’ styling of the 1966 Jeepster. Its red and white paint job is a similar nod to the 1966 original. The Jeepster is also influenced by the aftermarket trend of relocating the Wrangler’s spare wheel into the rear cabin so the outside wheel carrier can be modified to carry accessories.