The Jeep Rene­gade proves that girls can’t help but fall head over heels in love with bad boys.


TTWO months ago, I had the op­por­tu­nity to test-drive my first Jeep, the Rene­gade Lim­ited. Up un­til then, all I knew about the brand was what most peo­ple know – that Jeeps are renowned for their off-road ca­pa­bil­i­ties and were first built by the Amer­i­cans for mil­i­tary use dur­ing World War II. While the US-mar­ket Rene­gade has four--

wheel-drive with a 2.4-litre en­gine, the Sin­ga­pore ver­sion has a much smaller pow­er­plant and is front-drive. Stacked against the rest of Jeep Sin­ga­pore’s model line-up, which all have big­ger-cc V6 en­gines and are all 4x4, the Rene­gade’s 1.4-litre 4-cylin­der tur­bocharged en­gine seems puny and weak.

A friend even went as far as to say “If it’s not four-wheel-drive, it’s no Jeep”, the same way some peo­ple con­sider any­thing less than a V8 sac­ri­le­gious to high­per­for­mance mar­ques. No doubt such emo­tional at­tach­ments are en­trenched in the brand’s her­itage, but in my opin­ion, the Rene­gade seems per­fectly suited to our city con­text. Folks who want a proper off-roader can still go for the Wran­gler which, ac­cord­ing to a col­league, “feels like it can de­stroy multi-storey carparks”, while the Grand Chero­kee is for peo­ple whose higher pri­or­i­ties are lux­ury and com­fort. My maiden Jeep Rene­gade drive made me feel like an ur­ban war­rior. Its ex­te­rior is not overly boxy and has just the right amount of curves to give it a stylishly mod­ern look with citys­licker vibes. The rugged ap­peal of the black bumpers, fend­ers, skid plates and side-sill claddings has a sim­i­lar ef­fect as a goa­tee or chin cur­tain on a Sen­si­tive New Age Guy. The sil­ver sig­na­ture Jeep grille, roof rails and mir­rors re­veal a hint of the Rene­gade’s softer side with­out de­tract­ing from its mas­culin­ity.

The all-black in­te­rior ap­pears to send the mes­sage that it is still a tough guy on the in­side, with el­e­ments such as the wrench-shaped han­dle above the glove com­part­ment be­ing sub­tle re­minders of the Rene­gade’s re­bel­lious streak.

There is a cer­tain gruff­ness to this Jeep. The en­gine it shares with the Fiat 500X cross­over does need some coax­ing to get a move on, and the steer­ing doesn’t feel as point-and-shoot as I would have liked, but some­how these just add to the ve­hi­cle’s per­son­al­ity. And per­son­al­ity is some­thing that the Rene­gade has plenty of.

There are no elec­tric seats, no key­less en­try, no push-but­ton start/stop and no nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem – fea­tures we have got­ten ac­cus­tomed to and have come to ex­pect in most cars.

But it is al­most as if you can for­give the Rene­gade any­thing, like how you can for­give a child who has been dis­obe­di­ent or a dog which has been chew­ing on fur­ni­ture.

Look beyond that steely, round-eyed, slot­ted-grille face and it is dif­fi­cult not to melt at the doe-eyed en­dear­ment tug­ging at your heart­strings. Per­haps the sexy or­ange body colour may have some­thing to do with it as well.

I still re­mem­ber my firsts – my first red pedal car, my first bi­cy­cle which had a blue frame and white tyres, and my first Bar­bie who wore a blue aer­o­bic leo­tard with rain­bow-coloured leg warm­ers. Now, I shall re­mem­ber my first Jeep as the or­ange Rene­gade with that X-fac­tor.

A little Big­foot (rear wind­screen) and a tiny WWII Willys Jeep (front wind­screen) play hide­and-seek in the Rene­gade.

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