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New models - Jeep - Renegade

Driven: Jeep Renegade rocks in

Rock on: The Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is fully rigged for bush bashing, with Koni dampers, an off-road mode and category-best ground clearance.

First non-US Jeep Renegade brings genuine off-road ability to small SUV segment

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Jeep logo16 Oct 2015

By TIM ROBSON

JEEP has, as predicted, steered its new entry level Renegade range away from the bottom of the small-SUV pack, pitching the four-tier line-up against more premium-priced machines from Subaru and Volkswagen.

Available with a choice of three engines and three transmissions, the BU Renegade hits the market at $29,500 plus on-road costs in front-wheel-drive manual guise, topping out with the highly specced Trailhawk four-wheel drive at $41,500.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia president and CEO Pat Dougherty said the Renegade will be something of an acquired taste, but believes that it will succeed Down Under.

“We reckon it’s a real segment-busting product, with some unique attributes to it,” he said at the launch in Far North Queensland. “We think it’s going to have unique appeal. And while it won’t appeal to everybody, that’s the way we like a product to be. We know some people want a traditional look, but others will like the ‘Jeepness’ of this product.” The Renegade is based on the same Turin-produced platform that underpins the imminent Fiat 500X crossover, making it the first model to carry the iconic Renegade moniker to be built outside the United States. Jeep claims it is the world’s “most capable small SUV.” The Italian-American quartet drops into the rough and tumble of Australia’s burgeoning compact-SUV segment, taking on a multitude of foes including the dominant Mazda CX-3, Honda’s highly rated HR-V and Mitsubishi’s solid-selling ASX.

Its pricing and spec, meanwhile, pitches it against larger, better-equipped cars such as Subaru’s XV and the Volkswagen Tiguan.

“From a targeting standpoint, we think we've got it positioned more against the (Nissan) Qashqai and the XV,” said Mr Dougherty.

“At the same time, we're trying to get away from the traditional (space) with this vehicle in particular because it's different. It's unique. We're not trying to put in a box with a Mazda vehicle, or a Hyundai vehicle, or a Holden. It’s very Jeep, and it’s very unique. We think we can capture some volume at the price points we have.” The ‘US small and wide 4x4’ platform, as it’s known, runs MacPherson struts front and rear (technically, the rear arrangement becomes a Chapman strut with the addition of a rear half-shaft) and disc brakes at all four corners.

All Renegades can be optioned with Jeep’s dual-panel removable roof, known as the My-Sky roof, which can be either slid back or taken completely off and stowed.

The My-Sky roof is a $2200 option, while a more traditional twin-pane sunroof is $1900.

The Renegade’s base model and price leader, the Sport, offers a front-wheel-drive chassis fitted with a 1.6-litre 81kW/152Nm naturally aspirated petrol engine teamed up with a five-speed manual gearbox.

In manual Sport guise, the Renegade returns 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres and emits 141 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Its fuel tank can hold 48 litres, while its tow capacity is 800kg (braked). It is fitted with idle-stop.

The Sport is also available with Fiat’s MultiAir 2 1.4-litre, 103kW/230Nm turbocharged petrol motor, backed by a six-speed dual dry-clutch transmission (DDCT), which returns 5.9 L/100km, emits 137g Co2/km, and can tow 1200kg. All 1.4-litre turbo variants are also fitted with idle-stop.

Its inclusions are rudimentary, with cloth seats, a Uconnect 5.0-inch screen infotainment arrangement with Bluetooth and little else in the way of extras. A rearview camera is included, however.

Seven airbags, a polyurethane steering wheel with cruise and stereo controls, air-conditioning, 40/40/20 split rear seats with a fold-flat front passenger seat and 16-inch alloys make up the rest of the spec.

Next in line is the FWD Longitude – known as the Latitude in the US – which is also powered by the 1.4-litre turbo and six-speed DDCT combo.

It’s still trimmed in cloth, and it also uses Jeep’s Uconnect 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit, but with six speakers instead of four. It scores a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, two-way powered driver’s seat and 17-inch alloys.

The better-equipped Limited, meanwhile, is also specced with the same powertrain and drivetrain layout. A 7.0-inch colour TFT dash screen and a Beats-branded nine-speaker array complement its larger 6.5-inch satellite navigation-equipped Uconnect screen.

Bi-Xenon headlights, heated eight-way powered driver and passenger pews, a heated steering wheel, leather trim, centre console bin, tinted glass and 18-inch rims round it off.

The flagship Trailhawk, meanwhile, is fitted with the most powerful engine in the line-up, the naturally aspirated 2.4-litre MultiAir 2 Tigershark, which is good for 129kW and 230Nm. This engine also appears in the Cherokee.

Featuring Fiat’s variable valve timing gear mated to a Chrysler engine, it’s backed by the range’s only nine-speed automatic transmission.

The 2.4-litre engine consumes 6.2L/100km, emits 175g/km of CO2 and weighs in at 1550kg. The first three Renegades in the range all weigh 1295kg each.

It’s also the most highly specced of the four, with Trailhawk-specific leather interior, badging and bonnet decalling, large Uconnect screen, off-road specific 17-inch rims and Bridgestone all-terrain tyres.

The Trailhawk is also fitted with a comprehensive suite of off-road technology, including Jeep’s Active Drive Low gearset which includes a 20:1 crawler gear, 20mm higher ride height, Koni adaptive dampers, a five-modeSelec-Terrain switch, redesigned front and rear bumpers for better departure and approach ability, underbody bash plates and hill descent control.

A blacked-out grille and red tow hooks, along with a full-sized spare wheel, round off the spec.

The transmission also sports a disconnecting rear axle and power take-off unit (PTU) arrangement, allowing the Trailhawk to run on-road in FWD.

Jeep says the Trailhawk has a wading depth of 480mm and ground clearance of 211mm, while its four-wheel independent suspension is said to be capable of 205mm of wheel articulation.

Its towing capacity is reduced to 907kg (braked).

Seven airbags, a rearview camera and rollover mitigation are standard safety items across the range, while augmented forward collision and lane departure warning, blind-spot monitors and rear cross-path detection are available as options. Prices were not available at time of publication.

2015 Jeep Renegade pricing*
Sport $29,500
Sport (a) $32,500
Longititude (a) $34,500
Limited (a) $38,500
Trailhawk (a) $41,500
*Excludes on-road costs

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