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The Top Gear car review:Jeep Renegade
What is it like on the road?
The Renegade’s complicated and caveated engine line-up is a minefield. Allow Top Gear to guide you through the tripwires. First off, the new 1.0-litre turbo isn’t as eager as we’ve become used to from ickle triples. It feels like a city car engine struggling to move a big 4x4 – Jeep claims 0-62mph in 11.2sec and it feels every one of them, with motorway merging and roundabout getaways feeling pretty lethargic at best. At least it’s mated to a relatively positive six-speed manual that’s less rubbery than earlier Jeep stick-shift efforts.
If you opt for the more powerful 1.3-litre with 148bhp, you find the missing gusto of the triple, but the pay-off is being stuck with a pretty appalling six-speed dual-clutch that we had to double check wasn’t actually a ten-year old Cat C automatic. Or a CVT. Kick-down is non-existent, it holds onto gears too long, and it’ll leave you marooned, engine revving, wheels static, as it dawdles its way through the arithmetic and selects a gear. A Seat Arona DSG makes a mockery of it.
In that case, you’ll want the 178bhp engine, which instead gets a nine-speed auto as standard. Traditionally, we’ve not been fans of that either, but its responses are superior to the DCT ‘box. Pity there’s likely to be an efficiency, price and depreciation triplet of penalties to pay.
So, the petrols are all imperfect. The diesels, though unfashionable, are better. Well, the 2.0-litre with the nine-speed is, at any rate. Plenty of torque, intuitive response and acceptable NVH. Thing is, for an urban-friendly car, diesel is becoming less acceptable by the day. What a crying shame Jeep hasn’t been able to use the eight –speed automatic gearbox that Alfa Romeo gets, which would make better use of this engine family.
If the powertrain performance leaves you unenthused, not to worry – you’re not missing out on great handling. There’s plenty of grip for something with the height-to-width ratio of a block of flats, and it doesn’t lean over unduly. But if you want a chuckable crossover, you’re better served in a Hyundai Kona. Does anyone want a chuckable crossover?
We’d recommend dodging the 19-inch alloys, which transmit too much fidget and rattle into the cabin – the 17s are far quieter rolling. Narrower tyres help reduce some of the doughy steering weighting which makes the Renegade ponderous in town too, at very low/parking speeds.
On the motorway, you’re mainly battling the titanic wind noise generated by the Renegade’s body form and big door mirrors. The latter are a necessary evil to provide some semblance of visibility, which the enormously thick pillars do their best to block. The ride is happiest here.