JEEP RENE­GADE LON­GI­TUDE

Twins un­der the skin put their plat­forms to dif­fer­ing uses. Richard Black­burn re­ports

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Head To Head -

VALUE

Costs more than the Fiat 500X and has less equip­ment. Stan­dard fare on the Rene­gade in­cludes re­vers­ing cam­era and rear park­ing sen­sors, dual-zone air­con, elec­tronic hand­brake, rain-sens­ing wipers and auto head­lights. Capped price ser­vic­ing is among the most ex­pen­sive pro­grams around, at $1632 for three years.

DE­SIGN/TECH

They may be twins un­der the skin but you’d never pick this pair as sib­lings. The Rene­gade, with ma­cho off-roader style whee­larches and bumpers, sig­na­ture Jeep grille and boxy pro­file, trumps the Fiat with its re­mov­able two-panel sun­roof but has a smaller cen­tre screen dis­play and feels more util­i­tar­ian in­side, with durable rather

than stylish fin­ishes. No sat­nav or adap­tive en­gine map­ping.

EN­GINE

The 1.4-litre turbo shared with the Fiat is a strong en­gine with plenty of low-down grunt (103kW/230Nm). It’s also im­pres­sively fru­gal on the open road. The fuel-saving stop­start, which shuts off the en­gine at the lights, is a bit clunky and slow to restart. The dual-clutch trans­mis­sion works well at higher speeds but is jerky in stop-start traf­fic.

SAFETY

Blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, seven airbags and rear cam­era are stan­dard but it misses out on safety tech in more ex­pen­sive mod­els, in­clud­ing for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and rear cross path alert. Hasn’t been crash tested lo­cally but got five stars in Euro NCAP test­ing.

DRIV­ING

It’s the best han­dling Jeep ever built, al­though that isn’t the com­pli­ment you may think it is. The Rene­gade is a com­pe­tent and com­posed per­former and has above-av­er­age road man­ners. Apart from the grumbly trans­mis­sion, it de­liv­ers a re­laxed ride around town and, for a high-rid­ing mini-SUV, sits flat through cor­ners. The steer­ing re­acts faith­fully to in­puts, while the en­gine stands up with flex­i­bil­ity and strength.

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