On the day Ford unveiled its new Bronco, Jeep teased a Wrangler "concept" with a 392 badge, which of course indicates the presence of a thundering V8 engine under the hood. This week, a model was seen being tested in Florida, as reported by Motor1.com. Clearly things are hopping behind the scenes at Jeep.
As with the Rubicon 392 concept, the model that was seen on the road in the Sunshine State has a hood with an air intake to cool the engine compartment.
If the powertrain is the same as that of the concept, it means the engine in testing is a 6.4L V8, which is capable of 450 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. It would normally be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and the full-time 2-speed Selec-Track transfer case. The sprint to 96 km/h could be done in less than 5 seconds.
The exhaust layout would be dual, unlike other current Wrangler variants. The model seen here didn't have the 392 badge, but that may not mean anything. Instead of 37-inch Falken Wildpeak tires, this Jeep wears BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 rubber, the size of which was not possible to determine. The design also featured a two-inch elevated suspension and Fox monotube shock absorbers.
Rumour has it that Jeep’s plant in Toledo, Ohio, has built about 30 Rubicon 392 prototypes. The official launch date of this version remains a mystery. It's a good bet that they want to introduce it sooner rather than later, in order to offer a solid response to the Bronco.
"I will answer with the mouths of my cannons," Frontenac, the governor of New France, essentially replied back in 1690 to an emissary who had come to ask for the handing back of Quebec City to English forces.
330 years later, one can imagine Jeep answering the same thing to Ford. The most profitable brand of the FCA group (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) will certainly not stand still in the face of Ford's offensive.
That said, the return of the Bronco can’t help but shake things up in this niche segment, which is a great thing for enthusiasts.