The compact SUV market has been in upswing for years now, and everyone who counts is building a raisedbody version of an existing B-segment model, fitting it with some premium kit, and charging a fortune extra for the privilege of a high driving-position and the hint of a lifestyle statement. Jeep has now joined the fray, with an interesting Italian-influenced Tonka Toy that’s based on the Fiat 500X and built at the giant Melfi plant in Italy. (A wide 4WD-capable version of the platform also underpins the Opel
Adam.) All-American, this is not; it reflects Chrysler’s joint ownership with Fiat SpA.
That US-flag-waving spot of national pride brushed aside, the Renegade is a good little car. It’s trendy, individualistic, chock-full of rather nicely-judged plastic textures and nifty trim-detailing, plus a few arty touches for the hipsters out there – including an X leitmotif running through the taillight design, the badge, and various interior trim elements. It’s based on the functional embossing of the original US Army fuel can fastened to the back of early CJ Jeeps. Heritage, you know.
The Renegade is shortish, wide, and pretty high, so looks toy-like from some angles; but, from others, appears beefy and purposeful, thanks to bold wheel arches and dramatic alloy rim designs. Wheel arches are trimmed in hard-wearing plastic, and lights are encased in chamfered plastic housings− cementing the offroady looks first signalled by the roof bars, signature seven-bar grille and 170mm groundclearance (on the 2WD versions). At launch, the mid-spec Limited model available was a front-driver powered by the entry 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo 4cyl petrol with 104kW and 230Nm achieved high up the rev range.