When Fiat merged with Chrysler 12 long years ago, I was very much looking forward to the Jeep-ified version of the Panda. Back then, in the throes of the Great Recession while every automaker was downsizing, the prospect of a cute, compact Jeep, based on the all-wheel-drive Panda Cross, seemed inevitable. Remember, this was a time before the Renegade, and the Panda’s history of extricating its plucky little self from muck and mire on the old continent appeared to make it a good fit for Jeep.
Well, we were ultimately denied the Jeep Panda and the youthful exuberance I’m certain it would have lent to the brand. But now it’ll get another chance — sort of — thanks to the recent Stellantis merger, according to Automotive News:
The first Jeep model built on a PSA Group platform as part of the merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that formed Stellantis will start production in July 2022 in Tychy, Poland, sources with knowledge of the matter told Automotive News Europe.
The small SUV, which is based on the Compact Modular Platform (CMP), will use engines developed by PSA, the sources said.
The new Jeep will be followed by two other models from former FCA brands, a small Alfa Romeo crossover in January 2023 and a small Fiat in July 2023, the sources said. FCA said in December that the new models, which it did not name, would also have full-electric power.
The CMP platform that would underpin this new sub-Renegade Jeep can be found in the Peugeot 208 and 2008, Citroen C4 and DS3 Sportback, among several other models. So while this isn’t quite the Jeep Panda envisioned in Allpar renderings from a decade ago, it also kind of is in the sense that it would be a European compact wearing a Jeep badge. And that’s still weird to think about, though perhaps not as weird as it sounded back in 2009.
Of course, much has changed since 2009 (so much) and nowadays there’s less of a chance we’d actually see this small Jeep west of the Atlantic. We already have a small Jeep of our own after all, and besides — now we’re all about enlarging crossovers and SUVs, not shrinking them down.
Like the Renegade 4xe sold outside the U.S., the yet-unnamed baby Jeep may reportedly offer the option of an electric motor-driven rear axle, in addition to internal-combustion and fully-electric versions. If you recall a little more than a year ago, when rumblings about this little guy were still fresh, it was unclear whether the upcoming Jeep was intended as a serious off-roader along the vein of its bigger, badder siblings or a tiny furniture hauler.
FCA executives at the time alluded to it as an “urban utility vehicle,” while the Telegraph in 2018 described it as “micro” and “city-oriented,” though still being built to offer the “best off-road in the class.” (It’s worth pointing out that was all well before Stellantis became a thing, too.) Given that, it doesn’t sound like the CMP-based Jeep is gunning for the Suzuki Jimny’s crown. In the off chance that it is, though, we’ve reached out to Jeep for clues.