We drove the Jeep Renegade 1.3 150 HP: a compact SUV with pure Jeep DNA.

The original Jeep has grown into an absolute icon. One loves its shape, its purposeful compactness, its go anywhere usability. Modern urban dwellers love to inject its pure, outdoorish character into their lifestyle, and therefore what better thing to do than to choose this Jeep Renegade. It approaches the dimensions of the original, and also the body contours and cabin design take you fully into the Jeep world.

Like its veteran original, the Renegade we tested has also a small four cylinder petrol engine under the hood, but that is where, so many decades later, all comparison ends. Because this Renegade is crammed with the very latest state of the art technology the FCA group has to offer, and then we are not even talking about the PHEV version, which we recently announced in these columns.

This Renegade has impressed us, and quite frankly, it does the Jeep name (very) proud. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The styling people were very inspired to integrate the square contours of the iconic  original into the bodywork, and to weave the round light beams of the first ever Jeep into the LED light profile of the Renegade. The square shape of the roof line also benefits rear passenger headroom and increased available cabin space overall for this compact SUV.

Also the styling, shapes and contours of dashboard, instruments and seats evoke the expert talents of the Jeep designers. They live and breathe the Jeep DNA and are masterfully translating it into forms. This expertise is also continued into the judicious choice of materials. It evokes ruggedness and contemporary refinement at the same time.

Once behind the wheel, one is pleasantly surprised by the feeling of spaciousness which is created by the rather upright windscreen, and for once you don’t have to bend your head sideways to avoid your hat being knocked off. Just enjoy being in a Jeep. It is made for the rugged outdoors, so you can keep that fur coat and hat on…

All the controls are well placed and the infotainment functions are virtually all self explaining, including the commands on the central touchscreen for navigation and connectivity. We found also the navigation command software one of the best in the industry when it comes to ease of use.

Add to this the impressive sound system, DAB+ reception, Apple Play and Android Auto features, and you agree with us that this Renegade has everything it takes to let the modern urban connected crowd feel totally at home, even in the most remote corners of our beloved earth.

New engines…

Combining power and zest with strictest (future) emission requirements, that is what modern petrol engines have to do, and the latest “Firefly” engine generation of the FCA group truly delivers.

What to think of variable valve timing and lift, amongst others. The latest MultiAir III evolution further optimises independent intake valve opening and closing. By implementing specific intake and exhaust cam profiles, low-load efficiency is improved by recirculating the exhaust gas by opening the intake valves in advance, while high-load output is emphasised at the same time by delaying the intake valve closing.

In other words, MultiAir III technology can reduce the real compression ratio, controlling knock and substantially improving fuel efficiency also when the engine is delivering high power… Are you still with us?

This new engine family finds a home under the bonnet of the Renegade, in three and four cylinder form. Combustion chamber architecture is the same for both engines, with 330 cc displacement, resulting in 1 litre and slightly more than 1,3 litre respectively. Despite all its “green” ingenuity, the power delivery is impressive to say the least. In this four cylinder form, it is good for 150 HP in the version we tested, coupled to the six speed dual clutch transmission.

Performance is brisk: 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 9,4 seconds and top speed is 194 km/h. As we told you already when testing the Fiat 500 X Sport: Top power is delivered over a very wide rev range between 4 and 6.000 rpm, as it then hovers between 140 and 150 hp. But at 3000 rpm the engine delivers already 110 HP. Maximum torque of 270 Nm is delivered at anywhere between 1800 and 4.000 rpm, with 70 Hp output already available at 2000 rpm. Economy depends greatly on your driving style, suffice to say that the manufacturer quotes between 5,9 – 6,1 l/100 km in the mixed cycle. CO2 emissions –combined cycle-  is quoted at 134-139 g/km.

Driving pleasure, also off road…

This is a Jeep, and this means it feels totally well at home off road. But also on even tarmac some real driving pleasure is to be had. It is quite stable on winding stretches, and can indeed be driven with spirit, taking high curve speeds very well in its stride. The happy Renegade buyer has the option between two or four wheel driven configurations. Off-road capability is guaranteed by two advanced 4×4 systems, Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low. Jeep Selec-Terrain is integrated with four settings (Auto, default mode with rear axle disconnect; Snow, 4WD mode calibrated to reduce understeering; Sand and Mud, 4WD mode for maximising low-speed traction promoting further wheel spin) for optimal response on all road surfaces.

Jeep Active Drive is a fully automatic system and delivers seamless operation in and out of four-wheel drive, and at any speed, reducing energy loss when 4WD is not needed to the benefit of fuel efficiency. The system does not require any driver intervention, delivers yaw correction during dynamic events and improves response in both understeer and oversteer conditions. Jeep Active Drive can transfer up to 2,000 Nm of torque to the rear wheels, enabling optimal grip in low-traction conditions. A variable wet clutch housed in the rear wheel drive mode uses patented Jeep algorithms to provide the proper amount of torque for any driving condition, including low-traction surfaces, aggressive starts and dynamic driving.

Jeep Active Drive Low

Jeep Active Drive Low integrates Jeep Active Drive taking the crawl ratio to 20:1 for genuine 4×4 performance. The system is only paired with the 2.0-liter diesel engine and nine-speed transmission however.

Conclusion

A true Jeep, which has all the legendary qualities of the original, excellent versatility, ruggedness, ease of use, combined with panache and character. It is of course totally adapted to modern times, with an ultra state of the art petrol engine, superb chassis, and combining comfort with very good road manners. On top of it all it has iconic styling, almost ideal dimensions, will seat four comfortably with enough room for luggage, and has present day connectivity…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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