While the Chrysler portion of the newly constituted Fiat Chrysler Automobile company moves ahead on its revised product plan, there will be a new Fiat coming soon as well.
The long-awaited 2016 Fiat 500X crossover utility vehicle, with available all-wheel drive, will be unveiled on July 4th, according to Fiat--which has released two photos of a prototype 500X body shell in the factory in Melfi, Italy, where it will be built.
2016 Fiat 500X prototype body shell in assembly plant in Melfi, ItalyEnlarge Photo
MORE: 2016 Fiat 500X Spy Shots
It will add another model to the range now comprised of the Fiat 500 minicar range--three-door hatchback, Cabrio cloth-roof convertible, and Abarth hot hatch--and the more recent Fiat 500L tall wagon.
The design of the 500X was seen briefly in a video two years ago, but now spy shots of disguised versions testing on public roads are starting to emerge.
ALSO SEE: Fiat 500X: Previewed On Video, Full Details Soon? (July 2012)
The new 500X crossover will compete most directly with the MINI Cooper Countryman, and perhaps also the Nissan Juke, both subcompact five-door vehicles with available all-wheel drive.
2015 Jeep Renegade, 2014 Geneva Motor ShowEnlarge Photo
But while the Fiat 500X doesn't share a great deal of understructure with the little Fiat 500 minicar (which reintroduced the U.S. to Fiat cars in 2011 for the 2012 model year), it helps the combined Italian-American company reduce complexity.
Underneath, the 500X rides on the same platform as the upcoming 2015 Jeep Renegade subcompact crossover. The Jeep is expected to sell in higher numbers, both globally and in the U.S., which would be a likely reason that it launched ahead of the 500X.
The Renegade, one of the smallest Jeeps ever built, will launch first in China, and will go on sale in the U.S. next year.
While the two cars share no body panels--and it's unclear whether the 500X will use the latest all-wheel-drive system developed by Jeep for its new cars with transverse engines--they're likely to share the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine used across a growing number of Dodge, Fiat, and Jeep products in the U.S.
If you look closely at Fiat's photos of the 500X body shell, you can see a Jeep Renegade in the background as well. The two crossovers are built in the same factory.
We'll provide more information on the upcoming 2016 Fiat 500X when it's unveiled--either six weeks hence or, if Fiat releases details early, even before then.
The first all-wheel-drive Fiat 500 is expected to go on sale in the U.S. early next year, as a 2016 model.