Huge V8 for ageing Jeep Wrangler


A high-performance engine for the old-school 4x4.

AMG might be famous for its V8s, but no automotive company is quite as committed to the bent-eight engine configuration, as Chrysler.

A mere week after revealing the world’s most powerful SUV, Chrysler’s Jeep division has leaked an image which confirms that Wrangler will soon be available with a V8 engine option.

The image in question was posted on Jeep’s official Twitter account and shows a new Wrangler bonnet stamping, with a distinctive power scoop and ‘392’ badging.

Any follower of Chrysler will know that ‘392’ is the imperial capacity code for the brand’s most potent Mopar V8 engines. In our more metric South African frame of reference, it calculates to 6.4-litres – and that means a naturally-aspirated version of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk engine, will power a V8 Wrangler.

The current Wrangler 3.6-litre V6 is hardly unpowered, compared to other low-range enabled off-road vehicles of similar ability. It produces 209 kW and 347 Nm in the South African application, yet Jeep is aware that for extreme dune driving, one can never have too much power. Hence the validation of this new project, to bring V8 power to the Wrangler range.

Chrysler’s 6.4-liter Mopar branded Hemi V8 is good for 361 kW and 644 Nm, which should give the 13-year old Wrangler platform a significant boost in acceleration and overtaking performance.

Perhaps the most considerable influence on Jeep’s product planning, with regard to this V8 Wrangler, is Ford’s new Bronco. The two American brands will soon be in direct rivalry with competing hardcore 4x4 SUVs, for the first time in decades. And Jeep does not wish to be out-powered by Ford's Bronco.

The Wrangler is a wonderfully competent rock crawling 4x4, but it lacks the on-road refinement and general polish of a new platform and design – such as Bronco. Jeep’s solution to keep it relevant is very simple – add a lot more power. For bakkie fans, the notion of a V8-powered Gladiator double-cab will be a very appealing potential consequence, of the Wrangler range's powertrain expansion. 

Earlier in 2020 Jeep teased this Mopar Wrangler rear three/quarter shot.

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