New Jeep Renegade SUV
When we originally tested the Renegade, we were left fairly impressed with Jeep’s entry-level model. We concluded that test with the words: “the company’s decision to inject a comfortable and enjoyable compact town-goer with a generous helping of Jeep character could prove something of masterstroke”. We gave it a score of 76/100.
What is it?
However, that was a front-wheel-drive version developing 103 kW and 230 N.m. If you plan on venturing off-road, you ultimately need one of the all-wheel-drive derivatives. This is where Jeep’s two 4x4 Renegades enter the fray.
There is the 2,4-litre 4x4 Trailhawk, with its four-cylinder petrol engine, and then there is this model, the 1,4-litre turbopetrol 4x4 Limited. This forced induction engine develops 125 kW and 250 N.m and is connected to a (wait for it) nine-speed automatic transmission.
As is always the case when I climb behind the wheel of a Renegade, I’m surprised by its size. In pictures, it might look compact, but in real life it feels and is bigger. This is probably owing to the overall square design.
Little design details here and there – including the miniature Jeep that heads up the A-pillar on the inside of the windscreen and the red mud splash on the rev counter – remain a novel touch.
There is also an overall chunky feeling to the instruments, such as the thick-rimmed steering wheel and hefty door handles.
On the road
Even though this model tips the scales at 1 537 kg, the 1,4-litre engine allows for brisk acceleration, partly assisted by the transmission that swaps quickly and effectively into the next gear. On our test strip, the Jeep managed a 0-100 km/h time of 10,75 seconds, while the average braking time was exactly 3,0 seconds.
On tarmac, the Jeep rides well with the suspension and tyres absorbing bumps in the road. However, a drive on the gravel roads heading over the hills in Overberg region revealed the Renegade is just as comfortable off the beaten path. The road was made up of relatively smooth as well as rough gravel sections. By simply pressing the circular button above the gearlever, the four-wheel-drive system was locked, offering torque to both axles.
I attempted to see how the Jeep would respond to slightly enthusiast steering and throttle inputs and noticed that when the level of grip is overcome the ESP system does a great job of preventing any unfortunate situations.
Offering a spacious cabin front and rear and a drivetrain with a level of off-road ability, this Renegade ticks most boxes. And it should. Priced at R501 900, it is in the same bracket as larger SUVs, such as the Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson. However, none of these cars offer the same sort of excitement and design details as the Jeep.
Ultimately, though, this is the Renegade model for those who want to occasionally extend their trips to roads less travelled.
JOHANNESBURG - Think Jeep and the most likely association you'll make will be either the hard-as-nails Wrangler or the luxurious but still capable Grand Cherokee. Now, with the automotive market tacking a strong tack towards downsizing, it may be the little Renegade that more frequently slips into our consciousness. We travelled north to see if the entry-level model has what it takes to strengthen that association.
What is it?
As a range, the Renegade is probably Jeep’s best product to date. Last year when the Renegade was launched in South Africa, we tested the 1,4L T Limited, which at R380 990 is the second most affordable model in the line-up. We walked away thoroughly impressed with the peppy performance served up by its 103 kW/230 N.m Fiat Chrysler Group 1,4-litre, turbo petrol, so it was with some trepidation that we got behind the wheel of the markedly less powerful entry-level model, the R333 990 1,6L Longitude to see how its naturally aspirated powerplant performs at Highveld altitude.
Behind the wheel
As a market Gauteng absorbs close to half of all cars sold in South Africa - not to mention around 15% of a naturally-aspirated engine's performance at its 1 5000-metre altitude. The result is that with only 81kW/152 N.m and three adults on board, the 1,6L Longitude felt rather sluggish. On the highway at speeds below the national speed limit, there were times that I needed to shift into third gear in order to accelerate with any purpose.
However, through the traffic-heavy suburbs of Bryanston and Sandton, this issue is largely moot. Here the smooth gearchanges, the Renegade's overall chunky feel from behind the wheel and good ride quality impressed. These days we often drive brand new cars that already have a few creaks and rattles, but that was not the case with the Renegade.
Although the Renegade is the smallest member of the Jeep family, from behind the wheel it actually feels somewhat similar to the company's larger offerings. The square body design frees up ample head- and shoulder room all round, while the elevated driving position not only gives you a sense of safety but affords a good view over the bonnet that makes judging the position of the front extremities easy in tight urban manoeuvring.
It's in the details
Spend some time with the Renegade, and you gradually begin to notice the clever creative details that Jeep's designers have managed to add to an already characterful little car. Along the right-hand side of windscreen is a small Jeep driving up the A-pillar, the redline on the rev counter is indicated by the splash of a paintball and the rubber surface at the bottom of one of the storage areas features the signature seven-slot grille that marks all Jeep products.
While the local Renegade range offers no less than five engine options, this entry-level model manages to afford you a proper taste the of characterful design and general driving experience associated with the rest of the range. However, if longer journeys on the open road - especially those with three or four adults aboard - or moderate off-roading are part of your plan, you'd be better off looking towards the 1,4L T Limited (with its turbocharged petrol unit), or even better, the 1,6L Multijet Limited with its torquey 88kW/320 N.m turbodiesel unit, both of which do a fine job in most driving scenarios.
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