Electric Renegade

arrives at Jeep

Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, front, trail
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, front, off road
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, front, off road, articulation
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, front, wading
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, rear, off road
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, interior
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, rear
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, side
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, front
Jeep Renegade 4xe, 2020, charging point

JEEP aficionados may be having palpitations in finding out their iconic go-anywhere four-wheel-drive is now going to be powered by electricity using a 11.4kW battery to fit in with the new world of hybrid motoring.

But their fears can be erased because this first ever hybrid Jeep - the redoubtable Renegade - supported by a 1.3-litre 128bhp turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine alongside another 59bhp from the battery offers a performance that has not been compromised in anyway.

Yes, this new Renegade 4xe with its petrol/electric powertrain is dearer than the conventional and present model - it costs £32,600 for the entry level Longtitude which is some £7,500 more - but in the new age of more environmentally-friendly motoring diehard Jeep fans will not be disappointed.

Aimed in particular at the company car driver with its tax advantages with its CO2 emissions of only 50g/km and also at those individual genuine Jeep car lovers this new Renegade hybrid will do exactly what Jeep owners demand with a quiet, powerful drive on normal roads and equally impressive off-road credentials.

Sit behind the steering wheel and it will a little while to understand and absorb the car's various driving modes - hybrid, full electric and sport power - which can be changed on the move courtesy of a simple set of small buttons to push on the dashboard.

Jeep engineers claim with this 11.4kW, which drives the rear axle for 4WD, the Renegade will drive 26 miles in pure electric mode with a top speed of 81mph and plug it into a 7.4kW wallbox charger it can fully recharge the battery in under two hours.

It's easy to plug-in too at home into a normal 13amp household socket - which will take longer to fully recharge -and the worry for some such hybrid drivers that should they see the battery charge dial falling fast there's always the fallback to the good old traditional internal combustion engine - in this case the 1.3-litre turbo petrol which is already well used across the Fiat/Jeep model range.

This petrol engine neatly interlocks with the battery power system and with a conventional automatic gearbox using a torque converter moving up and down the a gears is in all honesty effortlessly.

Jeep claims this hybrid will on average return 134mpg and on this first evaluation two features stand out - a smooth transition from driving mode to another and driving it on both normal roads and proper off-road is much like the old styled non-hybrid versions.

Performance data is 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds and the top speed is a claimed 124mph.

In terms of outside looks the Renegade, which will soon be followed by both Wrangler and Compass hybrid versions, remains as distinctive as ever with just a subtle 4xe badging.

Inside the cabin is again like the non-hybrid with an impressive array of standard equipment levels and all the latest connectivity such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board.

With comfortable seats this hybrid is just as spacious as the non-hybrid versions with just a slight reduction in boot space because of battery storage while elsewhere it's the same as other Jeeps.

Two minor warnings for newcomers to the hybrid Jeep - both the lane departure warning and blind spot warning sounds are extremely loud which will certainly be noticed by the driver.

There are two other versions of the new Renegade hybrid - the Limited at £34,800 and the Trailhawk at £36,500 - with the latter having a slightly bigger output at 237bhp compared to the other two at 187bhp.

Jeep in the UK is confident the new Renegade hybrid will be a success here bearing in mind the huge amount of initial enquiries already received with the entry-level likely to be the best seller.

The Italian-made Jeep Renegade hybrids are expensive over the non-hybrid versions but it's a major breakthrough for the brand and it will be interesting to see how may drivers are convinced the extra money outlay is worth it. On first driving impressions it has to be said it is impressive.

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