By: IOL Motoring Staff
Geneva Motor Show - Jeep is placing its bets on small being the new big in the SUV world with its very first entry into the small (and by this we mean sub-Compass) SUV realm.
Gone soft? Don't say that to its face.
For starters, the new Jeep Renegade laughs off any pretty 'softroader' trends with its boxy lines from front to tail. You might even say it resembles a Suzuki Jimny, but wasn't the Jimny Jeep-inspired to begin with?
The Renegade's tough looks are backed up by what Jeep claims is best-in-class off-road capability, thanks to two new permanent four-wheel drive systems: Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low.
Based on the technology offered in the latest Cherokee, both systems can send up to 100 percent of the engine's available torque to the ground through any wheel. The two systems also offer Jeep's Selec-Terrain system that allows the driver to choose between numerous terrain modes: Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud.
The Active Drive Low system takes bundu bashing capability a few obstacles further with a 'Rock' mode and a 20:1 crawl ratio.
Trailhhawk models have this system as standard, along with a (20mm-higher) 220mm ride height, skid plates, front and rear tow hooks, hill descent control and bespoke bumpers with respective approach and departure angles of 30.5 and 34.3 degrees. The Trailhawk can also ford through water up to 48cm deep.
To give you an open air experience and panoramic view while bundu bashing, the Renegade offers two 'My Sky' open-air roof panel options - one being manually operated and the other offering a powered tilt/slide function.
Technologically, the interior is more in keeping with a city slicker, Jeep offering its Uconnect touch-screen audio system that offers hands-free communication and available navigation. Advanced safety gadgets on offer include Forward Collision Warning-Plus and LaneSense Departure Warning Plus.
Jeep hasn't gone into much detail about the engine line-up, but has mentioned that there are four MultiAir petrol engine options and two Multijet II diesel engines on offer, with the top versions - the 2.4-litre petrol and 2-litre diesel - available with a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
The Renegade will be sold in more than 100 countries, and our local contact tells us that it is under consideration for launch in South Africa, either towards the end of this year or early in 2015. However, the exchange rate will be a factor in deciding whether or not to bring it here.