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Jeep challenges allegiance with Renegade

21.05.2015

The small crossover SUV segment just seems to grow by the week as I find myself at another launch, where a brand enters this highly competitive segment. Jeep is known for hardcore off-roaders and comfy SUVs however, its latest foray into the small crossover SUV market with the new Renegade is a big step for a brand looking to increase its volumes.

Renegade is what, exactly?

The new product is based on the Fiat’s small vehicle architecture and shares its platform with the likes of the Fiat 500L and 500X for example. This gives you an idea of what Jeep was going for in terms of size. Think Nissan Qashqai and Mini Countryman if you’re making comparisons. I was under the impression that it would compete with the likes of Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Citroën Cactus however, after seeing Jeep’s pricing and the marketing pitch it’s clear that Jeep is heading for the more premium compact segment.

Those looks

This is a more urban-looking Jeep but at the same time there are still those signature styling cues associated with the brand, such as the round headlights and seven-slot grille, squared-off wheel arches, bumper cladding and that boxy silhouette. Overall, I think it looks great and is sure to sit well with the Jeep faithful.

Inside Jeep-ness

The interior is a very modern, well-laid out affair with a mixture of colours and surfacing to give an impression of a degree of utilitarianism, while still providing the modern features that we demand in our vehicles. The build quality is also good without any rattles and creeks noted throughout the test.

There is the occasional scratchy plastic here and there, but it seems to tie in well with the interior theme. You get a seven-inch UConnect infotainment system with Bluetooth/USB compatibility as seen on other Chrysler products, as well as some items such as the air conditioning display, gear lever and switches, which you can see are from Alfa and Fiat products. Overall though, the interior is a great blend of faux off-road and urban chic.

Engine and model range

There will only be one model (the Limited) for now and it is powered by the familiar 103kW/230Nm 1.4-litre MultiAir II Turbo petrol engine. I achieved around 6.8 litres/100km on my test route, which is quite impressive considering there was some mild off-roading involved.

The Limited model is only available with a six-speed manual transmission and a 4x2 configuration, for now. The Longitude and Trailhawk will join the Limited range in September, which will add a cheaper model as well as a 4x4 variant into the mix.

The kit

The Renegade is quite a pricey steed but it does come with six standard airbags, ESC with Electronic Rollover Mitigation (ERM), Parkview rear camera, Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Lane Sense Departure Warning-Plus and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Is it practical and capable?

Well it isn’t close to as capable off-road as a Wrangler or even a Grand Cherokee but it does have over 170mm of ground clearance, meaning that we literally went kerb-hopping in Johannesburg. In terms of practicality, there are some clever storage areas in the cabin as well as 351 litres of boot space or 1 297 litres with rear seats folded flat. The space is decent for front occupants, but the rear is a bit smaller than I’d hoped for.

Verdict

The Renegade is sure to appeal to those who want the Jeep looks without the fuel bill and oversized body of many of the brand’s other vehicles. It’s a youthful take on its traditional brand values and a great move by the brand, which is sure to lure in younger buyers.

Pricing and peace of mind

The Jeep Renegade 1.4-litre Limited starts at R375 990 and includes a standard three-year/100 000km warranty and a six-year/100 000km maintenance plan.

Article written by Sean Nurse
21.05.2015
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