Despite the new Jeep Gladiator having been revealed as recently as late-November 2018, a fresh report out of the United States suggests the automaker is already developing a high-performance version of its Wrangler-based double-cab bakkie.
According to sources cited by the Jeep Gladiator Forum, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is working on a high-performance version of the new bakkie (which could end up wearing the “Hercules” badge) to take on the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor.
While the report suggests the project has not yet been given the official green light for production, it adds that prototypes have already been built and are undergoing testing.
In addition, Mark Allen, who heads up the design department at Jeep, suggested to Autoline in 2018 that the firm would “expand into [the] high-speed off-road” segment. Jeep Gladiator Forum speculates that Allen may have been referring to the rumoured Hercules.
It’s not yet clear what sort of engine would power the high-performance version of the bakkie, but it’s worth bearing in mind the standard Gladiator features the brand’s familiar 3,6-litre Pentastar V6 (while a 3,0-litre EcoDiesel V6 is also on the cards).
Of course, the forum also created a render of the Hercules (pictured above), giving the standard bakkie items such as Mopar beadlock wheels (shod in heftier rubber), a Mopar front skidplate, steel front bumper, a black grille, the obligatory lift kit, rock rails and a more aggressive bonnet design.