Because it’s not tough unless it survives here.
We’ve been told time and time again that the Australian outback is one of the most hirsute and trying environments, and so it’s only natural that American SUV company Jeep is putting its iconic Wrangler through its paces here ahead of its local launch.
The Wrangler is an important car for Jeep both internationally, and in Australia. With our fastidious demands for both on-road and off-road capability, the Wrangler will have its work cut out for it if it wants to keep buyers here happy.
“Australia presents some incredibly unique driving environments so it was in our best interest to visit and understand if there were some new learnings that we could apply to the development of the new Wrangler, specifically for this market. We understand there’s an expectation from the Australian market that their vehicles are appropriately tuned to the country’s unique driving conditions, and for that reason, we initiated the program to investigate if there’s anything were could be doing differently when it comes to delivering the Wrangler for Australia.” — John Adams, Program Manager (Wrangler), Jeep
The Wrangler has already been subject to global testing, where the car was measured up in conditions presented in Brazil, China, India, Russia, Italy, and the Middle East, as well as driving across the Rubicon Trail in order to earn that ‘Trail Rated’ badge that every Wrangler carries. Australia will now join those ranks as a key testing environment for the brand going forward.
“From the outset, our mission here was to collect as much data as possible from as many different driving conditions as possible, and the Australian outback certainly delivered that opportunity. We were really happy with the way the vehicles performed and were able to gain some valuable accelerometer and engine data to take back to our US HQ for analysis, before determining our next steps.” — Bernie Trautmann, Lead Engineer (Off-Road Development), Jeep
The design may be familiar, but it’s all new underneath. There’s a new frame upon which that iconic silhouette rests, itself made of aluminium, high-strength low-weight steel, and magnesium, resulting in a reinvention that doesn’t offend purists. Functionality and day-to-day usability improvements were prime focuses for the new-generation Wrangler, resulting in an instantly-recognisable off-roader that is, by any objective metric, vastly improved.
What’s interesting about these tests is that the prototype models that Jeep brought along with them were powered by the new turbo-four petrol mill with 201kW and 400Nm, as well as the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 with 213kW and 353Nm. This may (or may not) be an indication that these are the mills that will find their way to our market, possibly bypassing the 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 entirely.
*Bernie Trautmann and John Adams in Alice Springs with a Wrangler Rubicon prototype
All models will be all-wheel drive (you didn’t really think otherwise, did you?), with the option of an eight-speed automatic transmission that will help improve motorway refinement and fuel consumption. There will also be a six-speed manual gearbox for those wanting a bit more control over their progress.
The new-generation Wrangler will be built in the Toledo, Ohio plant in the US, where Jeep vehicles have been built for the better part of the last decade. The Wrangler will commence right-hand drive production later this year, so we’re likely to see the Wrangler arrive on our shores either late 2018 or early 2019. Stay tuned to CarShowroom as we bring you more updates as they come.