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Grrrr! It’s the Jeep Renegade
This is the Jeep Renegade. Yes, Renegade. A strangely fighty name for a car that’s more ‘ahhh’ than ‘grrr’, the bug-eyed new baby of the Jeep line-up.
Renegade. This is rather like calling a Golden Retriever puppy ‘Slasher’, no?
Fighty it may not be, but the Renegade is worthy of closer inspection. Sharing underpinnings with the Fiat 500L (Chrysler is a subsidiary of Fiat, remember), this is a compact SUV to rival the Juke or Mini Countryman.
It measures just 420cm end to end, making it some 15cm shorter than the five-door Range Rover Evoque. Within that compact length, Jeep’s designers have squeezed all their firm’s signature styling cues, giving the Renegade a… well, let’s say a surprised look.
Behind that perma-confused face, you’ll find a range of sensible Fiat-spec engines: four ‘MultiAir’ petrol and two ‘Multijet’ diesels, all four-cylindered. The fruitiest of the bunch is the 2.4-litre naturally aspirated ‘Tigershark’ petrol making 184bhp, which could render the Renegade a mini-hot-SUV rival for that Nismo Juke.
Transmissions? Four- and five-speed manuals, a six-speed dual-clutch effort and, most interestingly, a nine-speed auto, which must surely represent the greatest imbalance in the number-of-gears/length-of car-ratio in the history of motoring.
You can have your Renegade in either front-drive or four-wheel drive flavour. Spec that latter and, in normal road driving, drive to the rear axle is disconnected, the engine driving only the front wheels. But when the going gets slippy, the Renegade can chuck the full 100 per cent of torque to whichever of the four wheels can utilise it best.
In other words, this thing is potentially far more dirt-track capable than the current swathe of ‘baby SUVs’.
And if you’re really up for the off-road, you can even your Renegade in ‘Trailhawk’ guise, which adds a 20:1 ‘crawl ratio’ mode to the auto’ box, extra ride height, the ability to ford almost half a meter of water, and even tow-hooks front and rear.
Expected to roll out across left-hand drive markets first, we’re unlikely to see the Renegade unleash its wave of mild-mannered terror on the UK before 2015. Be afraid. Actually, don’t be.