THE soaring sales of Jeep in the UK are almost 200 per cent more than at this time last year and the new Renegade is largely responsible for this massive increase with the small SUV Jeep proving to be a big hit writes Bryan Longworth.
Renegade is a unique cosmopolitan Jeep for it is the first model not to have been built in the United States being produced in Italy now that Chrysler is part of the Fiat empire and becoming the first Jeep to be produced in Europe and then sold in the States.
The stylish Renegade is also the first Jeep to be available with both four and two wheel drive for previously Jeeps were traditionally 4x4 vehicles and the original model helped America and its allies win the Second World War.
Renegade whose rivals include the Skoda Yeti is closely related to the Fiat 500X but the American and Italian designers have managed to retain the distinctive Jeep style and Renegade really looks like a proper Jeep complete with that very Jeepish front.
In fact I found that the Tonka-toy styling and that very impressive traditional Jeep seven-slot grille and round headlights made Renegade look something really special and the test car attracted a lot of attention especially from Jeep lovers who had not realised just how impressive the Renegade looks.
There are 14 models in the Renegade range five of them with four wheel drive and priced from £17,295 to £28,595 with my test car being the Renegade 1.6 Multijet II Limited 120 with two wheel drive costing £23,495 plus options which took the overall price to £26,565.
Power was provided by a 1.6-litre 120bhp diesel engine to the front wheels which produced a top speed of 111mph a zero to 62mph time of 10.2 seconds with a combined fuel consumption of 61.4mpg (the trip computer showed it to be less than this) and CO2 emissions of 120g/km.
Key options were the huge panoramic sunroof which will be nice for summer driving and the very efficient xenon headlights but standard kit on the Limited spec test car was good with a very efficient climate control system heated front seats and cream leather upholstery although I would have preferred a darker and more practical colour.
As well as that distinctive exterior the interior is just as impressive with an excellent easy to see instrument binnacle and a sensible combination of touch screen and manual controls although the door pockets could have been larger and the stop start button should have been illuminated to make it easier to locate at night behind the steering wheel.
On the road this particular Renegade with its six speed manual transmission provided a very enjoyable and comfortable drive and should be one of the most popular models because many owners in this market sector are now opting for 2WD instead of four wheel drive.
As the owner of a Skoda Yeti which is one of the Renegade’s main rivals I liked the small Jeep because the company has done an excellent job with their first small model that will make this sector even more competitive for the Jeep is such a very credible competitor.
After driving Renegade for a week it is not surprising why Jeep sales in the UK’s small SUV segment are doing so well because the Italian and American engineers have done such a good job with their first joint venture and it will be interesting to see how the US market reacts to Renegade.
Model: Jeep Renegade
Engine: 1.6-litre four cylinder diesel.
Output: 120bhp @ 3750rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 111mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 61.4mpg combined.
C02 emissions: 120g/km.