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by Tim Beissmann

A mule of the all-new ‘baby Jeep’ has been spied undergoing high-altitude testing ahead of its international unveiling and launch in 2014.

Hiding under a roughly cut collection of Fiat 500L body panels is the sub-compact Jeep’s new platform, which it will share with the upcoming Fiat 500X crossover.

Jeep sub-compact SUV Mule 3

Built in Turin, Italy, the baby Jeep will be available in front- and all-wheel drive, with the Michigan-based car maker promising at least one ‘trail-rated’ variant capable of hardcore off-roading. The Jeep’s underpinnings will be uniquely tuned by the brand’s engineers to give it enhanced off-road ability over its Fiat sibling.

The duo will also share petrol and diesel engines and transmissions, with some of those likely to be inherited from existing Fiat models.

Jeep sub-compact SUV Mule 4

There will be no similarities in the vehicles’ design, however, with the Jeep set to boast the brand’s traditional seven-slat grille and boxy proportions and the Fiat to feature softer, rounded lines and panels.

Jeep CEO Mike Manly confirmed in July the brand’s smallest ever production model would be 4.2 metres long, making it a rival for pint-sized SUVs like the Ford EcoSport and Renault Captur as well as conventional small cars like the Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf.

Jeep sub-compact SUV Mule 5

In planning since 2010 following the formation of the Fiat Chrysler alliance, the baby Jeep will become a crucial global model for the company, which plans to boost its sales beyond 800,000 by the end of 2014, up from 700,000 in 2012.




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