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First drive: Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.

First drive: Jeep Renegade
The Jeep Renegade is the famed American brand's first serious dip into the crossover pool.

   



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Jeep Renegade

4 4 4 4 4

Its looks won't be to all tastes, but the new Jeep Renegade is decent to drive, practical, rugged and impressively talented when the going gets tough.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jeep Renegade 1.6 MultiJet II Longitude
Pricing: TBA but circa 19,000
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door compact crossover
CO2 emissions: 120g/km (Band B, 20 per year)
Combined economy: 50.1mpg
Top speed: 110mph
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Power: 120hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1,750rpm

What's this?

This is Jeep getting serious about finding more customers, not just here in the UK and Europe, but worldwide. The compact crossover segment of the market is the fastest growing of all - we just can't get enough of these MacGyver-wannabes, and now Jeep is putting itself into position to compete with the likes of the Skoda Yeti and MINI Countryman.

Based on a highly modified Fiat Punto platform and built alongside its sister car, the (somewhat smaller) Fiat 500X, the Renegade is a self-consciously retro looking crossover that Jeep claims is the only true SUV in the segment. It backs up that claim by offering a serious off-roading version, the Trailhawk, which uses a 2.0-litre diesel, four-wheel drive and extra ground clearance to some spectacularly squelchy effect on muddy mountain trails.

We tested the somewhat more humble front-wheel drive 1.6-litre diesel, which will be the core seller in the range. In Longitude spec, it comes with such niceties as Jeep's uConnect touchscreen system with Bluetooth, air conditioning and a bucket-load of safety systems, including collision warning and six airbags as standard.

It's a square-shaped, squat family hauler with decent space in the back and a good 350-litre boot. The styling won't please all (someone said that it looks like a character from Finding Nemo), but it's certainly distinctive and works in a plethora of classic Willys Jeep styling cues all over.

How does it drive?

Pretty well, actually. The ride is quite firm, but well damped, although we reckon you'll have to be careful with your tyre and wheel choices (16- to 18-inch diameters are available) to prevent it getting too choppy on broken UK tarmac. The steering doesn't tell you very much but it's nicely weighted and the Renegade feels well-planted and stable at motorway speeds - and reasonably agile on tighter, windier roads. This front-drive version does tend to lurch a little as it turns into faster corners, but the roll settles down once the (custom-built Koni twin-chamber) shock absorbers have had a chance to catch up. It's probably the best dynamically sorted recent Fiat Chrysler Auto product this side of an Abarth 500.

It's not really worth trading up from the 1.6-litre engine to the more powerful 2.0-litre units - the smaller engine's 320Nm of torque keeps you rolling along nicely and although there's a constant, distant diesel chatter and hum, it's reasonably well suppressed.

The quality levels feel good too - all the cabin plastics feel rugged (more so than they do luxurious) and the Renegade feels capable of standing up to family assaults, although one of our test cars did develop an annoying fizzy rattle from behind the dash.

Verdict

Jeep is already on something of a roll and looks set to break the one million sales barrier for the first time this year, and we can't see the Renegade doing anything but adding to that success. It's not class leading (and can't match the Yeti for interior space), but it feels pleasingly rugged and you'll never drive anything that looks so distinctive.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 24 Sep 2014



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2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Max Earey.



2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 

2015 Jeep Renegade. Image by Jeep.
 






 

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