New Jeep Wrangler 2021 detailed: V8-powered Rubicon 392 Concept returns to spoil Ford Bronco reveal

Jeep has upstaged the drawn-out global unveiling of the Ford Bronco with the release of a long-rumoured V8 version of the JL Wrangler.

Dubbed the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, it is – as the number suggests – powered by a 392 cubic-inch V8, which translates to 6.4 litres as per the Chrysler 300 SRT. Delivering a hefty 336kW of power and 609Nm of torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic, the gutsiest Wrangler in history can bolt to 100km/h from standstill in around five seconds flat – and sounds the part with a dual-mode exhaust note synthesiser to boot.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the Jeep is only classified as a show car for now, so no production dates – let alone Australian market potential – have yet to be divulged, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) isn’t saying a word. However, the 392 Concept’s giveaway high standard of fit and finish, especially around the engine bay, suggests that the opening of the order books is probably not too far away.

Some overseas reports are saying that Jeep has already built up to 30 pre-production Wrangler V8s at its Toledo, Ohio plant, and that’s something that just wouldn’t occur for a model not earmarked for production.

Additionally, while FCA declined to comment on speculation of the V8 also migrating to the closely-related JT Gladiator pick-up as well, the latter does share its entire front half with the Wrangler, meaning such a development seems highly likely. The strong demand for performance trucks such as the Raptor versions of the Ford F-Series and Ranger in their key North American and Australian markets respectively is thought to be driving this.

Being completely off-road focused, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is ‘Trail Rated’ in Jeep-speak, meaning it features specialised Dana 44 axles, a full-time two-speed transfer case, electric front- and rear-axle lockers, 37-inch mud-terrain tyres and the company’s Performance Parts two-inch factory lift kit, all “for unmatched 4×4 capability”.

Whether the show car’s visual extravagances like the cool half-doors (not legal on Australian roads, sadly), special paint work and Red Rock-hued leather upholstery with gold stitching also make it on the production version isn’t yet known.

According to FCA North America head of Jeep, Jim Morrison, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is the answer to a question fielded by Jeep fans since the CJ7-series V8 went out of production in the mid-1980s.

“Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler V8, and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen,” he stated.

“Jeep is clearly listening to its customers. We are anxious to gauge their reaction to this new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a vehicle that delivers an incredible and unmatched level of fun-to-drive performance and capability, on- and off-road.”

When will Australians finally get a chance to drive a Wrangler with some real oomph? Watch this space.