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First look: Jeep adds yet another off-road element

Chunky looks: The Trailhawk has a deliberately aggressive design.

Trailhawk concept represents Jeep's latest off-roader foray

3 Jan 2007

CHRYSLER-Jeep is about to rapidly expands its local lineup with the Wrangler, Wrangler Unlimited, Compass and Patriot, but there is another car in the wings – the Trailhawk.

Revealed in sketch guise late last year, the Trailhawk, which is still only a concept at this stage, uses the body-on-frame Wrangler Unlimited as its base but has an air of amore refined open-air off-roader, according to Jeep.

The Jeep spin doctors go on to say that the off-roader’s high intensity discharge headlights from the front, “evoke the hooded eyes of a bird of prey”.

The design study is built on the body-on-frame chassis of the four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, but Jeep says it offers the “refined sophistication of an all-new on-road open-air concept vehicle”.

The Trailhawk concept, along with the Chrysler Nassau concept, will be unveiled at next week’s Detroit motor show.

Visually, the Trailhawk is a deliberately aggressive looking vehicle.

Jeep says the dash-to-front-axle dimension was deliberately made dramatically long to give the vehicle a “sense of forward motion”, according to the car’s chief exterior designer, Nick Vardis. The key is the car’s long 2946mm wheelbase, he said.

The car’s chunky stance is aided by very short front and rear overhangs and fat flared guards that house huge 22-inch five-spoke wheels.

Partly trapezoidal in shape, yet not asymmetrical, these angular, crisply-contoured wheel flares reinterpret one of Jeep’s fundamental design cues.

“The flares are stretched and pulled taut at one end,” Mr Vardis said. “Each presents a ‘long side’ angled toward the centre of the body.” One interesting design detail is the car’s roof system, which is comprised of two glass panels located over the driver and passenger seat, and larger third panel that extends from over the second row of seats down to the tailgate.

Each panel can be removed to provide the same open-air feeling that driver’s would experience in a Wrangler.

9 center imageLeft: The muscular rear end.

The Jeep trademark seven-slot grille is a given but it is angled rearward to match the pitch of the front mudguard flares. Bracketed between the grille and the flares, the chamfered headlamps mimic the lean-back stance.

Beneath their clear flush lenses, HID projector beam quad lamps nestled into twin “telescopic” polished aluminum barrels light the way forward while LEDs, configured in parallel stripes provide park and turn signals.

The tail-lights mimic the look of the headlights, including the striped turn signals.

The side windows retract fully into the body, leaving no B-pillar above the beltline, while the diagonal quarter windows are also fully retractable.

Grey-tinted glass panels over the first- and second-row seats and the glass panel over the cargo compartment are removable, as is the swing-up backlight.

Jeep says that with all the glass lowered and removed, the Trailhawk offers occupants virtually the same open-air ambience as a typical soft-top Jeep. The fixed central spine contains overhead lighting and several integrated storage bins.

The Trailhawk is powered by a Mercedes-Benz sourced 3.0-litre turbo-diesel BLUETEC engine developing 158kW/510Nm.

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