JEEP has ripped the covers off its Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a vehicle that previews the arrival of a V8-powered production Wrangler in the near future.
The headline act of the Wrangler Rubicon 392 is the fitment of a 6.4-litre (or 392 cubic-inch) aspirated Hemi V8 as found in the Grand Cherokee SRT, tuned to produce 336kW/610Nm – easily outstripping anything else on the off-road oriented 4×4 market.
Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, Jeep says the burly V8 will allow the Wrangler concept to reach 60mph (97km/h) in under five seconds, despite the fitment of a raft of off-road enhancements.
The Rubicon 392’s outputs easily trump anything in the current Wrangler portfolio, which includes the 209kW/347 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and the 147kW/450Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder.
Wrangler fans may also be given the option of a 194kW/600Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 in the near future, with the new engine recently announced for the mechanically related Gladiator pick-up.
While not yet confirmed for a production Wrangler, Jeep said the Rubicon 392 Concept is an “indication (fans) may soon get their wish” for a V8 Wrangler, with FCA North American head of Jeep brand Jim Morrison saying there has been demand for a long time.
“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,” he said.
“We are 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.”
To fit the engine, the concept features upgraded engine mounts and a modified frame, as well as a prominent hood scoop not unlike that on the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series.
Along with the V8 engine, Jeep has placed a large emphasis on making the Rubicon 392 concept as off-road capable as possible, fitting heavy-duty gear such as Dana 44 axles, electric front and rear diff lockers, full-time two-speed transfer case with 3.73 gear ratio and massive 37-inch mud-terrain tyres with custom 17-inch beadlock rims.
A 2.0-inch Mopar lift kit with new aluminium monotube Fox shocks has also been fitted to accommodate the beefy rubber, while rock rails, steel bumper with a Warn winch and steel underbody protection make the Rubicon concept truly trail-ready.
For those who want passers-by to notice the fitment of a V8, a two-mode exhaust can be toggled at the flick of a switch.
Other distinctive features include Granite Crystal exterior paint with bronze tow hooks, unique badging, custom half doors, sliding ‘powertop’ roof and removable side doors.
Inside, the concept is adorned in Red Rock- coloured leather with gold stitching and a performance steering wheel.
While various past Wrangler concepts such as the Sandstorm and Trailcat have used a V8 engine, no production Wrangler has been offered with a V8 since 1981 with the CJ-generation off-roader.
Through the first half of the year Wrangler sales have remained relatively steady with 528 units sold, down 2.6 per cent year-to-date.