The Fiat Panda 4x4 had been a strong consideration on Fiat Australia’s Italian shopping list as part of its local product growth plans but has decided the model could clash with the similarly sized Jeep.
Jeep’s smallest model yet is expected to be unveiled in 2014. It was originally intended to be based on the Panda 4x4 but is now believed to be a twin to the larger Fiat 500X. CarAdvice spies photographed a test mule in October.
FiatChrysler Australia, however, has suggested it doesn’t want any models clashing with the Jeep brand that sits under the alliance’s broad umbrella.
“Jeep’s our four-wheel drive brand,” said FiatChrysler boss Veronica Johns, when asked about the Panda 4x4 at the local launch of the regular Panda. “The lineup we have [for Fiat] is the one that continues into next year.
A FiatChrysler insider confirmed the company had gone cold on the Panda 4x4 but stressed that Johns’ comments didn’t mean any future four-wheel-drive models from other non-Jeep brands wouldn’t be imported.
The Fiat Panda 4x4 would have been one of the more distinctive city cars available thanks to its torque on demand all-wheel-drive system.
The regular Fiat Panda range just released in Australia does include a range-topping Trekking model, priced from $24,000 and featuring a higher ride height and special traction control system for the front-drive vehicle.