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Small is best for Jeep

Big features: Jeep's new Renegade is about the same length as a small hatchback, making it easier to park, more fuel efficient and better off road.

Low weight and compact dimensions make a better vehicle on and off road, says Jeep

13 Feb 2015

JEEP says the B-segment is the “perfect” size for a Jeep as it prepares to enter the competitive market for the first time with its new Renegade small SUV.

The small Jeep's development team designed the Renegade from the ground up, starting with an all-new platform – shared with the Fiat 500X – which allowed a focus on a variety of key attributes including all-terrain ability, vehicle dynamics and fuel economy.

Speaking at the launch of the new model in the United States, Renegade chief engineer Fil Grado told GoAuto smaller is better when designing a Jeep.

“If you were to design the perfect Jeep, it would be this size.” he said. “It wants to be small. It wants to be light. It wants to be very athletic on its feet so we were fortunate that we didn't have to build something much bigger.

It’s actually harder to go up in size.”

With the Renegade measuring 4232mm long, 1800mm wide and 1690 tall, Mr Grado explained that the relatively diminutive proportions provide benefits both on- and off-road via low fuel consumption and go-anywhere potential.

“It's about balancing the attributes required but still staying true to the Jeep brand,” he said. “We bring in the latest technology which helps us to balance the customer’s requirements, all the way from off-road to on-road manners.

“From an off-road stand-point, this Jeep is not challenged at all. Because of the fact that it’s lighter and has more tractive effort it’s really an ideal situation.

“This project became not just something of necessity, but really about doing something that Jeep represents. Small, light, agile, fuel efficient, and because of its size we were able to make that happen.

“It was a very exciting project. I don’t want to call it easy, but it was certainly easier without a lot of the challenges that maybe some people think we faced.”

In Australia, the new model will be offered with a choice of one turbocharged engine and two naturally aspirated options, but despite an increasing shift to forced induction from many rival manufacturers, Jeep is sticking with non-turbos for now, Mr Grado said.

“With our engine technology we’ve been carrying on with naturally aspirated and in my mind there is no end,” he said. “There are advantages to turbo engines obviously, but the technology in naturally aspirated engines has only gone on getting better and better.

“We will always offer alternatives because each carry benefits. With Renegade our main engine is a naturally aspirated 2.4. It is the workhorse and it will be the volume engine. As the masses demand, we will supply.

“The 2.4 with the nine-speed automatic transmission, we have already projected will be the volume seller here in North America. Probably more than half or even 70 per cent.”

The 2.4-litre Renegade is also predicted to be the best seller in Australia when it arrives in October this year.

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