Fiat came within a whisker of producing a ute based on the Jeep Cherokee.
The four-door ute, shown in concept form as the Fiat FCC4 at last year's Sao Paolo motor show, would have followed in the path of the US-market Subaru Baja that was based on the Outback.
Insiders believed the Cherokee-based Fiat concept could be made in two and four-door versions and as a front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, even up to a "trail-rated" off road focused Trailhawk spec.
But Fiat has opted for Plan B and will instead use a 2014 agreement with Mitsubishi to adopt the Triton as the basis for a global ute, now dubbed "Toro".
Fiat will use the same 2.4 litre turbo diesel engine and drivetrain as the Triton (above), even though the Italian automaker has its own range of Multijet turbo diesel engines.
But don’t get too excited nor expect to see the Toro down at your local Fiat Professional showroom in the near future.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia spokesperson Andrew Chesterton said there are no plans to introduce a ute such as the Mitsubishi-Fiat project.
Australia’s busy ute market may have been a reason. The 4WD ute market is dominated by the Toyota Hilux, with the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max also claiming significant market share.
Six other brands also sell utes in Australia, including budget-oriented Indian Chinese and Korean makes.
The Toro will instead sell in markets where Fiat has a strong presence such as South America and Eastern Europe, and compete with the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi’s own Triton.
Fiat currently markets the front-wheel drive Strada ute in South America, which is based on the monocoque Fiat Palio.
The Triton-based Fiat is expected to be launched in early 2016.
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