Jeep has a heritage in 4x4s that goes back longer than perhaps any other car manufacturer.
All Jeeps are SUVs. Off-road ability, therefore, is key to the brand’s heritage but, to expand into new sectors and attract new customers, it needs to retain the appeal of a Jeep, offer fuel-efficient engines and also give customers the option of two-wheel drive.
So, the Renegade launches Jeep into a new market segment: that of the B-sector SUV.
The biggest selling car in this sector is the Nissan Juke, although the Jeep’s dimensions are rather larger. It’s built in Italy and is a sister car of the Fiat 500X.
Jeep has sought to benchmark against the Mini Countryman (perhaps more of a traditional lower-medium hatchback than an SUV), and the Škoda Yeti, which is more of a rival for larger cars such as the Nissan Qashqai.
Confusing, perhaps, but also easier to explain away the Jeep’s price premium. Jeep doesn’t fear asking a premium price for the Renegade, but its website allows customers to compare with other models so they can see that, after adjusting for specification, the Jeep undercuts many rivals.
The Renegade is available with petrol and diesel engines. There will be limited interest in petrol among corporate customers, but there is also a choice of three diesels. There is a 120hp 1.6-litre front-wheel drive model, with CO2 emissions from 120g/km, and the option of 140hp or 170hp 2.0-litre diesels – the latter two being four-wheel drive only.
The Renegade has many traditional Jeep characteristics: the round headlamps, grille with seven vertical bars, and squared wheel arches.
Interior quality is much better than Jeeps of the past – and more in keeping with the latest Grand Cherokee and Cherokee, with soft-touch materials on the dashboard and elsewhere, while also feeling rugged.
Equipment grades start with Sport, rising to Longitude and Limited, with the ultimate off-roading Trailhawk top of the range, with greater all-terrain ability than the others.
Equipment levels are high, and there is a range of safety equipment offered, including lane keep assist, collision mitigation, emergency braking, blindspot warning and adaptive cruise control.
We tested the 120hp front-wheel drive and 140hp four-wheel drive diesel models.
The 120hp diesel, lacking in 4x4 hardware, pulls well enough, and is smooth and refined. Passenger space is comfortable for four adults.
The boot is nice and square, although not over generous with volume.
There is, however, a full-size spare wheel – a potential life-saver if the car is actually used off road.
The Renegade competes in a sector where more than a fifth of vehicles are true fleet cars.
It performs well enough to be a rational company car choice.