A birthday worth

celebrating

Jeep Renegade, off road 2
Jeep Renegade, off road 1
Jeep Renegade 75, dashboard
Jeep Renegade 75th Anniversary, static hilltop
Jeep Renegade 75th Anniversary, dash badge
Jeep Renegade 75th Anniversary, static front

IF you've got it, flaunt it, as they say. And Jeep has plenty to flaunt as its 75th birthday hoves into view.

The American brand may now be controlled from Turin, where it's part of the Fiat empire, but It will forever be part of an American culture that brought us cowboys and Indians and wide, wide spaces.

To succeed in an environment with a day between towns and no roads to talk about the early motorists needed something tough as old horseshoes. So did the U.S. Army, and so the Jeep was born.

Few cars deserve to be called iconic - something that resonates with even a non-car obsessive - but the first Jeep richly deserves attachment to that word. And today's bearers of the Jeep flame are determined to keep the memory burning bright with a slew of special 75 anniversary versions of its range.

So, attached to the array of Wrangler, Renegade, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee vehicles you'll find a smart little plaque bearing a silhouette of that original Jeep and the date 1941. You couldn't make the company's precious heritage any plainer.

Common to all the 75th Anniversary editions are new colours, including greens with names that recall past roles, so there's Sarge green for the toughie Wrangler in tribute to all the army sergeants who put a Jeep to work in the war.

That original Jeep was almost unimaginably primitive by comparison with even the most basic of any new car you could buy today, designed to do a tough job and to hell with the frills.

The current range has frills aplenty but will thrill in equal measure if set loose on a serious off road workout.

Even the baby of the line up, the Renegade will make mincemeat of a hideously rock strewn track that you'd hesitate to approach in a tipper truck designed for life in a quarry with boulder strewn floor.

By far the most popular of the four Jeep models on sale today (more than three in four of them in the UK, to be precise), the Renegade has been a bit of a sales hit since it arrived here early in 2015.

This new 75th Anniversary model won't do anything to dampen that popularity, costing only £300 more than its regular line-up equivalent but with little touches that help it stand out in a crowd that knows its Jeeps.

The car is available with 2.0 litre MultiJet diesel engines (£26,795 with manual gears or £28,595 with automatic transmission and low range) or with a 170 horsepower petrol engine and auto box for £28,000.

Helping the 75th Anniversary versions stand out are bronze finishes to parts of the outside, including grille surround, roof rails and the 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside, the black upholstery is lifted with orange stitching and, inside and out you'll find badges proudly declaiming the Jeep's three-quarter century.

For the full effect you may want to spend another £700 for special Jungle Green paint.

But you need to drive the Renegade to somewhere that its off-road ability counts more than simple looks. With a proper low-range available in the automatic gearbox and decent ground clearance as well, it will simply astonish with its eagerness to go almost anywhere it's told to.

That included, on the press drive, a set of rocky steps you simply wouldn't dare approach without an expert off-roader guiding you from outside the car. Enough revs and a few clunks from underneath and we were at the top, amazed and impressed in equal measure.

Back on the smooth stuff there was time to appreciate the more street oriented parts of this special Renegade, from standard sat nav to powered sliding roof and dual zone climate control.

Keep the off road adventures to a minimum and you'll approach the 48.7mpg of this Renegade's official average consumption but don't try for the 113mph top speed on or off the road...

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