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Jeep, the rugged American car maker of cool off-road 4x4's, has a little treat in their "baby" Jeep, the Renegade. 

 

Designed by the Jeep team in the USA and manufactured in Italy by Fiat, this particular Jeep is half American and half Italian - much like the population living in New Jersey. 

 

This combination suggests an interesting amount of character. Yes, the Renegade is loaded with aesthetic charm - Jeep termed "Easter eggs." Hunting for these "Easter eggs" are both fun and easy work. Even the most unobservant will find at least a dozen; speckled all over the Jerrycan-inspired Jeep. There’s more than a dozen but that's going to require a more thorough search to find them all. Does anyone know exactly how many there are?

Less obvious treats, hidden in the car's DNA, are the Renegade's ride and elevated height. The ride is supple - with the suspension set perfectly for urban driving. Speed bumps, potholes and the like are handled with ease. Being a true 4X4 and having 25cm of ground clearance makes for a commanding view of the road. The Renegade has abilities for real off-roading - making it the most capable compact SUV yet! Another asset is the 1.4 turbocharged engine, which is good for 103kW/230N.m. or a zero to whoopee in (100km/h) 11 seconds. The Renegade runs out of breath at around 190km/h which is ample for this type of vehicle. Always responsive and never lethargic - this engine is a goody. It is a pity; it's not as frugal as I hoped. During my week with it and 480km clocked both in the city and long highway runs, I received a 10.8L/per 100km. 

The interior is roomy for four, largely due to its cube-like shape that adds volume to the Renegades ceiling height - endowing the cabin a sense of space. The limited model that I reviewed comes standard with a leather trim. Soft to touch and gorgeously scented. This upholstery finish adds to the Renegade’s upmarket feel. 

From a technology perspective, there's a host of bells and whistles that keep the Jeep on par with its competitors. Although it was strange to note that the Jeep came standard with basic halogen headlamps that require manual operation. I mentioned that the Renegade is a true 4x4 - it is - and is as simple as engaging a rotator switch on the center console. Select a mode based on the surface of the road: sand, mud, snow or 4x4, etc. and voila, the Jeep is ready to do its thing. 

This is the second Renegade I've reviewed, both 1.4T, which I believe is the best model in the range. The first model, a slick shifting 6-speed manual, the second, a fancy 9-speed automatic. With so many gears to choose from the poor thing kept getting confused - playing a game of up and down shifts that made the automatic gearbox seem unnecessarily perplexed in city driving. Freeway motoring is better suited to the automatic, albeit I never saw the car hitting the 9th gear while cruising, rather 7th and 8th were the Renegade’s comfort spot at a cruising speed of 120km/h. 

 

PLUS +

Charming looks.

The hidden "Easter eggs."

Good ride quality.

Perky engine.

Real off-road abilities.

 

MINUS -

Pricey.

Numb steering feel.

Basic headlights.

Perplexed automatic gearbox.

 

 

Competition 

Audi Q2, Audi Q3, BMW X1, Fiat 500X, Mercedes-Benz GLA, MINI Countryman and VW Tiguan.

 

Pricing 

1.6L E-Sport R299 900.00

1.6L E-Longitude R360 900.00

 

1.6L Multijet Limited (Diesel) R432 900.00

 

1.4L T Limited Manual R420 900.00

1.4L T Limited Auto R446 900.00

1.4L T Limited AWD R501 900.00

1.4L T Limited AWD 75th Anniversary R543 900.00

 

2.4L Limited AWD Trailhawk R498 900.00

 

Options for all models

Metallic Paint R4 000.00

Parkview Rear Camera (not Sport, Longitude) R4 100.00

Blind Spot Detection (not Sport, Longitude) R5 200.00

18" Alloy Granite Chrys (not Sport, Longitude) R6 900.00

Leather (not Sport, Limited AWD) R12 800.00

Nav Radio 6.5" (not Sport, Longitude)

R13 900.00

Sunroof (not Sport, Longitude) R18 500.00

 

Service and warranty 

The Jeep Renegade comes standard with a generous six year/100 000km maintenance plan. 

 

My choice 

1.4L T Limited Manual R420 900.00

www.jeep.co.za

 

 

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