Jeep Wran­gler

Lat­est ver­sion poised for UK de­but


The ar­rival of the all-new Jeep Wran­gler in the UK in Novem­ber will act as a halo for the brand and un­der­pin a sales push built on its go-any­where rep­u­ta­tion, ac­cord­ing to new man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Arnoud Le­clerc.

While Jeep sales have grown sub­stan­tially in re­cent years – from 231,701 in 2009 to 1,388,208 last year – the firm has been slammed for post­ing a slight drop in sales in 2017, de­spite the mar­ket for SUVS boom­ing around the world.

The most sting­ing crit­i­cism of that sales per­for­mance came from FCA boss Ser­gio Mar­chionne, who at the turn of this year de­scribed the ef­forts of Jeep’s Euro­pean team as “lousy”. Le­clerc was ap­pointed to head Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles’ UK arm from the PSA Group in Jan­uary.

“It is true that 2016 and 2017 were hard for us, but 2018 has po­ten­tial,” said Le­clerc. “We have the right prod­ucts for the mar­ket now and the prospect of more to come.

“The Wran­gler is an icon and un­der­pins Jeep’s au­then­tic­ity as one of very few brands that gives ev­ery car it sells gen­uine off-road abil­ity. Other SUV brands are go­ing in other di­rec­tions, but let’s say that Jeep will never make a coupé. Our heart is in 4x4.”

The Wran­gler, a ri­val for the Land Rover De­fender be­fore it goes off sale, will be sold in two and four-door vari­ants. Em­pha­sis­ing its mod­ern makeover, engine op­tions will in­clude a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der mo­tor that uses a twin-scroll tur­bocharger and mild-hy­brid tech­nol­ogy. Other units in­clude a 3.6 petrol and 3.0 diesel.

Like its pre­de­ces­sors, the new Wran­gler is based on a body-on-frame chas­sis de­sign. It fea­tures five-link sus­pen­sion, while the roll cen­tre height has been raised and spring rates re­tuned to boost the ve­hi­cle’s off-road abil­i­ties and im­prove ride qual­ity.

Le­clerc also high­lighted the early suc­cess of the Jeep Com­pass, which was launched ear­lier this year, com­pet­ing against the likes of the Nis­san Qashqai and Seat Ateca in the boom­ing fam­ily SUV class.

“The po­ten­tial of that size and price of car is enor­mous,” he said. “It is true that the mar­ket is very crowded now, and there is a lot of com­pe­ti­tion, but that is why hav­ing a halo prod­uct like the Wran­gler is so im­por­tant. It em­bod­ies all the qual­i­ties of our brand and demon­strates the spirit of what our cars can give to cus­tomers.

“But the po­ten­tial for Jeep is there: we have a brand that is fa­mous and we have high-qual­ity new prod­ucts. The missing in­gre­di­ent is aware­ness and that is some­thing that can be fixed when it is un­der­pinned by the other two.”

Wran­gler is aimed at re­in­forc­ing Jeep’s off-road cre­den­tials

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