Fiat recently announced that it will be launching the iconic Jeep brand in India by the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2013.
No surprise that the Jeep Wrangler & Grand Cherokee have already been caught testing in Maharashtra. These test mules have been spotted doing the rounds in Pune earlier this week. As part of the testing cycle, engineers ensure product compatibility with Indian driving conditions, and would make any required changes prior to launch.
In the first picture, the Cherokee is leading the pack, followed by the 2-door short wheelbase Wrangler and the 4-door long wheelbase Wrangler. The butch Wrangler is considered to be the best off-roader in the world, while the Cherokee is Jeep’s flagship SUV.
The Grand Cherokee recently received a facelift; because the SUV is coming to India as a fully-imported unit, we expect to see the new facelift version launched here. Both, the Wrangler & Grand Cherokee, will be imported as CBUs (completely built units). The Grand Cherokee might avoid ARAI certification requirements as its price point is higher than $40,000.
The Wrangler will be powered by a 2.8L diesel with 197 BHP & 460 Nm of torque on tap. The Grand Cherokee has a larger 3.0L 6-cylinder diesel rated at 237 BHP & 550 Nm torque. In terms of pricing, we expect the Wrangler to be launched at just under Rs. 30 lakh, while the Grand Cherokee will nudge the 45 lakh point. These certainly aren’t going to be volume sellers for Fiat-Chrysler in India. In fact, things might get rather challenging as the Jeeps will be battling with Audi, BMW & Mercedes who dominate the Rs. 30 – 50 lakh segment.
Trivia : The Jeep nameplate was officially used by Mahindra for many decades. In fact, Mahindra was poised to launch the Cherokee here in the nineties. That project was eventually shelved. More recently, Chrysler accused Mahindra of design theft and copying the Jeep's front grille on the Scorpio.