Jeep has unwrapped a one-off V8-powered version of its Wrangler Rubicon off-roader and hinted that it may soon become an addition to the range.
The new 6.4-litre (392 cubic inches) engine is the first V8 used by Jeep since that of the 1981 CJ, which produced just 125bhp and 220lb ft of torque. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, by contrast, produces 444bhp and 450lb ft, giving it a 0-60mph time of less than 5.0sec.
Although it remains a concept for now, Jeep’s boss for North America, Jim Morrison, said: “Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler V8, and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen.”
Any production version would be unlikely to come to Europe, however, because it would fall foul of the European Union’s strict new emissions standards.
Morrison added: “We’re anxious to gauge their reaction to this new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a vehicle that delivers an incredible and unmatched level of fun-to-drive performance and capability, on- and off-road.”
Alongside the larger engine, the 392 Concept gains off-road-oriented modifications including Dana 44 axles, a full-time two-speed transfer case, electric axle lockers, 37in mud-terrain tyres and a 2in suspension lift. With 13.25in of ground clearance, the 4×4 is capable of fording water up to 34in deep.
The engine mounts and frame have been modified to accommodate the larger engine, while a two-mode exhaust system can change the engine note at will and Fox aluminium shock absorbers are said to improve damping and heat dissipation.
The breakover, approach and departure angles of the Wrangler Rubicon – one of the most capable series-production 4x4s on the market – have been improved by way of additional suspension articulation and a shorter, 3.73 gear ratio which gives “massive amounts” of low-end torque, while a strengthened eight-speed automatic gearbox is said to enhance the on-road driving experience.
The concept’s design largely resembles that of the standard car, further hinting at its potential for production, but it’s marked out by bronze wheels, shocks and trim elements, a raised bonnet and cut-down doors. The interior is trimmed throughout in red leather with contrasting gold stitching.
The Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept has been revealed at the same time as the new Ford Bronco – regarded as the Wrangler’s biggest rival. Like the Jeep, the new Bronco is available in both two- and four-door forms and as both a purpose-built off-roader and more road-focused SUV, although no V8 option has yet been introduced.