It’s a glorious morning in Glendalough House where the new Jeep Renegade is having its Irish debut. This smart crossover takes styling cues from its larger family members and packages them into a very cool offering that will certainly change the small SUV segment. Yes the Mini Countryman, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur are all funky looking vehicles but how different is the Renegade! Parent company FIAT Chrysler Automobiles have done a cracking job in making a small SUV that tips its hat to its American heritage with bags of character. The classic seven-slot grille, round headlamps and tapered arches make it easily recognisable as a baby Jeep but can it preform like its namesake both on and off road? It was time to find out.
With the keys of a diesel 1.6 Multijet II in my grasp, we made our way to the test vehicles. Buyers will have a choice of engines aside from the 110hp 1.6-litre E-torQ petrol to the higher 170hp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol variant. We think our test vehicle with 120hp and 320Nm of torque will be the vehicle of choice here in Ireland and after our test drive our initial thoughts were confirmed. It drives superb and feels rugged and well planted at all times. Pushing it through corners its inclined to lift the inside rear wheel more so than push the nose which inspires nothing but confidence. The gears are well spaced and with such high torque levels, changes are not often required even over the mountainous roads of Ireland’s garden.
Inside the Renegade is a breath of fresh air with ample headroom, good legroom in the rear and boot space large enough to swallow 351 litres of milk. Drop the rear seats and it takes a mountain bike plus gear or 1,297 litres of milk to be precise. Entertainment like all FCA Group vehicles is superb at the moment with a 6.5-inch screen featuring Uconnect that comes in both Limited and Trailhawk models. The 3.5-inch monochrome display comes in Sport and Longitude versions and still packs a punch. Buttons on the steering wheel can operate the display and the driver can customise the screen’s centre to display current fuel economy, outside temperature, time, and the compass direction. It’s intuitive and easy to navigate.
Back at our test base it was time to swap into an all wheel variant and tackle the rough off road course purposely laid out by Extreme Ireland to put the Renegade through its paces. This time it was a 2.0 Multijet II with 140hp that we took and set out across the vast acreage in search of some rough stuff! Before long we were faced with a sharp incline leading deep into the forest which immediately tested the 30-degree approach angle and the 210mm of ground clearance. The Renegade features two new, advanced 4×4 systems called Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low. With the Jeep Selec-Terrain control dial switched to Mud setting and the right foot applying half throttle the cleaver system redistributes torque according to which wheel needs it most and before we know it we are at the top of incline. Very impressive for such a small SUV on standard road tyres might I add! The off road route continues and with it do the smiles from the cabin as the Renegade laughs in the face of adversity.
After our off road excursion we return to more solid ground allowing me time to once again admire the little Jeep. The rear lights have a cool X design feature which was inspired by the ‘jerry’ fuel cans mounted on the back of the old Willys Jeep and the iconic grille design is etched into the centre of the lights, the speaker surrounds and various other places. The more you look at it, the more you find. My time with the Renegade was merely a few hours but we already have a weeklong test drive booked. This is a funky machine with a difference and one I believe both urban and rural dwellers are bound to find appealing. Prices kick off at just €22,950 and rise to €38,750 with 14 variants to choose from including a 9-speed automatic. Surely one will meet your needs!
Technical Specification of the 1.6 Multijet II
Engine Size – 1598cc
Fuel Type – Diesel
Power – 120hp
Torque – 320Nm
Acceleration (0-100km/h) – 10.2 seconds
Top Speed – 178 km/h
Consumption (Combined) – 5.5L/100km
CO2 Emissions – 120 g/km
Road Tax – Band C €390
Base Price – €22,950
Price as Tested – €30,450