With the limelight at the just-done New York Motor Show being understandably hogged by the fire-spitting Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Fiat Chrysler has instead elected to show off its latest forward-looking concept far away from American soil.
Revealed at the Shanghai Motor Show this week, the Jeep Yuntu concept gives us a hint at what may be around the corner for the American offroad brand, but though this concept may boast a glossy futuristic sheen, it still bears plenty of recognisably ‘Jeep’ design cues.
The brand’s signature seven-slot grille remains a prominent feature, as does the upright two-box form and trapezoidal wheel arches that have characterised Jeep’s offerings for decades. Lined up against Jeep’s present-day offerings, the vehicle it most closely resembles is also the brand’s volume seller: the Grand Cherokee.
But don’t assume an eventual production version of the Yuntu – if it materialises – will be quite the dirt-devouring offroader as the Grand Cherokee. Said to be built atop transverse-engine Cherokee underpinnings, the Yuntu is instead more city slicker than country cowboy. Pitched primarily at the Chinese middle class, the Yuntu’s greatest attribute is likely not its generous ground clearance, but its seven-seat capacity.
And that’s something that’s been missing from Jeep’s product portfolio for a long time. While the European, US and, presumably, the Australian market look set to receive the super-sized Grand Wagoneer as their first three-row Jeep, the Yuntu could preview another seven-seat sibling for the Grand Cherokee – at least in China, if not globally.
Will a showroom-ready derivative flaunt the suicide doors, huge wheels, all-glass roof and triple-screen dashboard of the concept? Arguably not, but the styling on display at Shanghai is a believable preview of what Jeep’s design department may have in store.
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