Jeep Renegade

| July 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

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Shea Stadium

When my sister got married in 1997, several of her South London friends were driving a Jeep, the 4 litre Grand Cherokee Limited. Fast Forward 19 years & a large SUV giving the driver 20 mpg at best, with emissions somewhere around 200g/km is not going to exempt you from the congestion charge or make any company car driver rush to the front of the queue. But don’t fret, because since Jeep was acquired by the Fiat Automobile Group, the American legend has had an overhaul, primarily under the bonnet where Fiats European developed petrol & diesel engines have transformed the Jeep portfolio out of all recognition & the latest Jeep model to appear from this merger is the Renegade.

Launched last Spring, Jeep’s Renegade is the brands first entry into the small SUV segment. It is also the first Fiat Chrysler Automobiles car to be jointly developed by Italian & American engineers & the first Jeep to be built in Europe but sold in the USA. Jeep explained at the UK press launch in Edinburgh, that they wanted to create a new smaller Jeep driven by more frugal Fiat engines, whilst retaining the heritage look of the original Jeep. In the flesh, there’s no doubting that the Renegade is a Jeep thanks to the signature seven-slot grille & large circular headlamps & in this respect Jeep has definitely succeeded.

Using the sister Fiat 500X as its base, the Renegade entered the compact crossover segment dominated by the likes of the Nissan Juke, Skoda Yeti & MINI Countryman, last April & sold 6334 units in 8 months last year, with 2016 sales set to top 10,000 units.  Jeep decided to make the Renegade available with 4WD best-in-class off-road ability, although the majority of it’s sales will be the 2WD versions & it was a 2WD Longitude in Solar Yellow that made it’s way to CCV towers in July. At launch Jeep identified the main competitors to the Renegade as the Skoda Yeti & MINI Countryman, but in the flesh, it’s larger than both being almost as large as a Nissan Qashqai. Visually, the Renegade offer’s the driver a classic 4X4 look, with two large front headlights on either side of the classic black & chrome Jeep grille & large wheel arches finished with chunky, black plastic surrounds. Even the the rear taillights are molded with an “X” in the middle to look like the side of an old Jerrycan, the classic Jeep look.

Sit in the front & there’s plenty of room for both driver & front passenger & unlike in the Countryman which is my family car, you can feel the space around you. The three rear seats are spacious with room for a couple of six-footers & a decent sized centre seat is an added bonus.

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To maximise possible carrying space, the front passenger seat folds forwards to enable the Renegade to carry really long objects. The boot has 351 litres of load space with the rear seats in place. Fold them flat and there’s 1297 litres of load space. My Longitude test model, also featured a removable, reversible & height-adjustable cargo floor panel as well as a lift-up passenger seat cushion with storage space underneath.Standard equipment in the entry-level Sport model, includes air conditioning, DAB radio with touchscreen and Bluetooth, electric parking brake, 16-inch alloy wheels, tyre pressure monitoring & remote central locking. Longitude adds 17-inch aluminium wheels, a six-speaker audio system, roof rails, body coloured door mirrors & handles, cruise control & front fog lamps. retailing at just £21,395 it’s really good value for money. If you want more goodies, the Limited version adds 18-inch aluminium wheels, a chromed exhaust tip, Forward Collision Mitigation, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, privacy glass & rear parking sensors.

In such a competitive market, where customers want to personalise their car, Jeep are offer the Renegade in 11 colours, with six wheel designs & six power train combinations. Solar yelow is a bit too loud for me, but by all accounts it’s selling well. It’s certainly distinctive !

Across the Renegade range, there are two MultiAir II petrol engines, a pair of MultiJet II turbo diesels & the 1.6-litre eTorque petrol. There are also five & six-speed manual gearboxes, the Dual Dry Clutch Transmission and the nine-speed automatic gearbox. Available with two or four-wheel drive the Renegade boasts two new, advanced 4×4 systems: Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low. Playing on the Jeep heritage, Jeep have made sure that you know your in a Jeep by filling the interior with the Jeep logo; even the front floor mats feature a map logo to remind you of the brands off-road heritage.

Our test model, powered by the 1.6 MultiJet II 120 hp engine with the 6 speed manual gearbox, is the model we believe will appeal most to the SME fleet market, striking just the right balance between standard spec & fuel economy. Fiats tried & tested Multijet engine does a good job in the Renegade, but it won’t send a thrill down your spine. The 1.6 manual 2WD version I tested will go from 0-62mph mph in 10.2 seconds, with a top speed of 111 mph. The claimed combined is 61.4 mpg which coupled with C02 emissions of 120g/km, is light years away from Jeeps of old. And this really has been the key, because if the Renegade is going to appeal to the fleet customer, then low emissions with good fuel economy are key. This takes on even more importance because almost a quarter of Renegade sales in the UK are earmarked for the business sector.

How did the Renegade perform for us ? I drove it for more than 300 miles on a mix of urban, extra urban & motorway miles & I found that it offers a surprisingly comfortable ride & the cabin itself, is a really nice place to be. The dash board contains some familiar Fiat switches & buttons, whilst the quality is generally good, again it’s miles better than Jeeps’s of old & looks & feels built to last. The Renegade has Jeep’s Uconnect system which provides an interface between vehicle occupants & the system’s communication, entertainment, navigation touchscreen & even voice control. My iPhone connected quickly & easily & the SatNav was simple to work as well. The only negative for me is that the 5″ touchscreen is a lilt too small for the rest of the dashboard.

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Whilst the smaller dimensions of the Renegade make for for more pleasurable driving than in it’s larger siblings, it’s still not anywhere near as fun to drive on-road as the Countryman Cooper D, which does offer the driver some thrills. What the Renegade does better than than the Yeti or the Countryman though, is to offer the space & practicality found in the next sector up, at a lower more affordable price.

To be truthful, I really like the Renegade. The funky colour choice, the nods to it’s glorious past & the practical chunky looks all appealed to the ‘outdoorsman’ in me. However, I think I would have a hard time selling these positives to my wife who likes her Countryman a lot more than the Qashqai she drove before it. Jeep is the original ‘Go Anywhere, Do Anything’ brand & with the Renegade, Jeep have produced another car worthy of this tag. By offering customers a myriad of colours with some nice design details, sales of Renegade are going well. With the entry level Renegade 1.6 MultiJet II 120hp Sport 6 Speed Manual, being offered in Q3 2016 at just £145 + vat per month on a 3 year 6 + 35 contract, it’s incredibly good vale for money, particularly when you consider that it’s a Qashqai sized car for the price of Nissan Juke.

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Category: Jeep

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