Will the 2013 FIAT Panda 4×4 replace Jeep Compass/Patriot?

Is it possible that this cute 2013 FIAT Panda 4×4 crossover might toughen up and become a Jeep? Crazier things have happened.

The 2013 FIAT Panda 4×4 will be officially unveiled at the 2012 Paris auto show in late September and early October.

Everything from here is based on guessing, conjecture and researching the lug-nuts off the little Panda.

Is it possible that the brand new FIAT Panda 4×4 will underpin a replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot? You bet it is. From an operational standpoint, Jeep is moving in the right direction. The Wrangler and Grand Cherokee are selling like hotcakes thanks to better power-trains, ergonomics, quality and packaging.

The Liberty is gone, which is a good thing. There are only so many ways you can reuse a platform that was nearly out of date upon its introduction. The advent of the four-door Wrangler Unlimited made the Liberty that much more superfluous.

Jeep’s Compass and Patriot are another story.

These vehicles have made the most out of their modest underpinnings. They have been updated and improved to the limit. When properly equipped, both soft-road vehicles can go places 90% of the small crossovers out there could only dream of. Great in snow and sand, these little buggers surprised many.

There is every indication that the FIAT Panda 4×4 will either replace these vehicles or slot in just under them as a Jeep entry model. The worldwide recognition of Jeep and their reputation for rugged offroaders could help market the little Jeeplet.

From what I know of the older Panda 4x4s, they are remarkably plucky machines with great offroad manners, especially considering that they are car-based. I drove a first generation Panda 4×4 and it was a real hoot.

This new Panda 4×4 has got the goods.

“Two engine versions of the Fiat Panda 4×4 will become available, both with Start&Stop: the new 85 HP 0.9 TwinAir Turbo and the 75 HP 1.3 MultiJet II diesel. Compared with the 1.2 Fire of the previous generation, the TwinAir Turbo has 40% more torque. In combination with a special six-speed gearbox with low-range first gear, it ensures better uphill starts, flexibility and pick-up. A similar improvement is found on the MultiJet II engine.” – – FIAT SpA

I would imagine a heavier vehicle to pass our government required tests, so a more powerful engine, say the beefy blender that’s being used in the 2013  FIAT 500 Turbo.  It will have a turbocharged, 135 horsepower “MultiAir” 1.4-liter engine that makes a crunchy 150 lbs-feet of torque. Now THAT would make for an interesting Panda.

The suspension is lighter, yet beefier according to FIAT. They go on to say that the entire suspension system is more sophisticated and, get this, quieter. There is a “specially built” 6-speed transmission that’s bespoken for the Panda 4×4.

“The Panda 4×4 is equipped with a torque-on-demand transmission system with two differentials and an electronically controlled coupling. This is a permanent four-wheel drive system managed by an electronic control unit which, by analysing vehicle signals, distributes traction on the front and rear axle homogenously and proportionally according to road grip conditions. The advantages of this system are that it is entirely automatic in operation and requires no maintenance.

The Panda 4×4 features an ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system with an ELD (Electronic Locking Differential) function as standard. This system provides additional assistance while driving and setting-off uphill on slippery terrain (snow, ice, mud etc.). More specifically, the ELD acts by braking the wheels with poor grip (or those slipping more than the others), thereby transferring the drive force to those which have more grip on the ground. This function can be activated manually by pressing a button behind the gear lever and operates below 30mph.” – – FIAT SpA

FIAT is showing off their new Panda Natural Power blessed vehicle. It can run on regular petrol or methane gas. Either way, it will put out 80 horsepower. This technology will create less of a carbon footprint while allowing the driver a selection of fuels.

We’ll keep you in the loop when we know more. As it stands, the only thing I can get out of Chrysler/FIAT reps is a sly smile and an occasional hint.

One thing’s for sure. A vehicle like this would be the bees-knees in the Rocky Mountains. It’s a great way to separate the men from the boys, up here in the rugged Rockies.

… and who better to test that spunky little Jeeplet than your’s truly!?

Naw – Roman won’t let me.

Check out this fun little video of a factory modified Jeep Compass!

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.