SMALL JEEP AIMS FOR BIG SALES IN SA

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

TRENT Bar­croft, CEO and MD of Chrysler and Jeep in South Africa is a happy man.

His di­vi­sion fi­nally took de­liv­ery of the Jeep brand’s small­est ve­hi­cle yet, the Rene­gade.

While built in Italy on a plat­form shared with the Fiat 500, Bar­croft stressed the lit­tle cross­over ute was de­signed by Jeep to ex­tend the brand’s dom­i­na­tion to new buy­ers in ur­ban ar­eas.

With just over 17 cm of road clear­ance, even the 4x2 ver­sion, which was launched on Tues­day is com­fort­able on rough dirt roads, as Jeep showed.

The first Rene­gade in SA will be pow­ered by the 103 kW ver­sion of Fiat’s 1,4-litre Mul­ti­Air II Turbo petrol en­gine, which is in the same class as Volk­swa­gen’s 1,4 with 230 Nm from at 1 750 rpm, mated to a six-speed man­ual gear­box.

An all-wheel drive and a nine­speed au­to­box will ar­rive in Septem­ber and makes about as much with stop/start fea­tur­ing a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion and 4x2 con­fig­u­ra­tion.

Jeep’s boss in South Africa likened the brand to Africa, a con­ti­nent which he says can grab your soul. He told Wheels Jeep had ba­si­cally in­vented the 4x4 over 74 years ago and all the ve­hi­cles in the brand still give their driv­ers the free­dom to get ad­ven­tur­ous in their spare time.

While ex­plor­ing rough roads in this spare time, Rene­gade driv­ers won’t feel the knocks so much, as the lit­tle Jeep is the first model be­hind the seven-grill bar to use Koni’s fre­quency se­lec­tive damp­ing that fil­ters out vi­bra­tions from un­even road sur­faces. Six airbags, ESC with Elec­tronic Rollover Mit­i­ga­tion are stan­dard.

A five-inch touch­screen links with Blue­tooth to smartphones, and have voice-com­mand con­trol of the AM/FM ra­dio. An aux­il­iary jack and USB port also en­able recharg­ing and seam­less op­er­a­tion of por­ta­ble de­vices.

Pric­ing for the Jeep Rene­gade 1.4L Limited starts at R375 990 and in­cludes a stan­dard three­year/100 000 km war­ranty and class lead­ing six-year/100 000 km main­te­nance plan.

The first 500 Rene­gades now avail­able at deal­ers in SA come with op­tional sat nav and big­ger wheels with chrome fin­ish as stan­dard. Jeep in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg say they have al­ready had calls in­quir­ing af­ter the Rene­gade, and a model is ready for test drives from to­day.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VIJOEN

Trent Bar­croft, CEO and MD of Jeep SA, in front of an artist’s im­pres­sion of the Jeep Rene­gade, now on sale in SA.

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