The existence of this model is no great secret, having been mentioned by Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne multiple times. We also know it's going to be built in Melfi, Italy, bringing much-needed jobs to the battered European economy, as well as strategically positioning the Jeep brand for growth in Europe and globally.
Although very small by U.S. crossover standards, the as-yet officially unnamed subcompact (though widely referred to as the Jeepster among automotive media circles) is in the white-hot B-segment crossover size class, one of the most popular segments in Europe and globally, with the Ford EcoSport being another popular model in the class.
The subcompact Jeep is believed to share a lot of its hardware with the Fiat 500L, but with suspension and drivetrain components appropriately beefed up for Jeep duty. It's unknown whether the smallest Jeep will wear the Trail Rated badge, or will be marketed more toward practicality-minded urbanites.
Under the hood, both the 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo, as well as the 2.4-liter TigerShark naturally aspirated I-4 are possibilities. Although a six-speed dual-clutch transmission debuted on the 2013 Dart compact sedan, it seems Chrysler has lately been moving away from dual-clutch boxes in favor of the ZF-licensed nine-speed automatic used in the Jeep Cherokee and new 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan. The nine-speed slushbox is a good bet for U.S.-bound versions of the small Jeep.
We may get our first look at the new small Jeep at the Geneva Show in March. The model may launch in calendar 2015 as a 2016 model, with the first vehicles going to Europe, with U.S. sales following shortly thereafter.