JEEP has a long established and well respected reputation for developing the roughest, toughest vehicles with awesome off-road capabilities, so when the arrival of a plug-in hybrid version of the mighty Renegade was announced, it could have raised a few eyebrows.
However, the Renegade 4xe fully lives up to the company's "Go Anywhere, Do Anything" motto and is in fact more powerful, comfortable, efficient and more fun to drive than the standard models.
The five door vehicle is available in three trim levels called Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk with the first two models delivering 190hp thanks to the 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine with an output of 130hp combined with the 60hp produced by the electric motor.
The range-topping Trailhawk really ups the ante though with a more powerful 180hp engine offering a total of 240hp.
Prices start at £32,600 for the Longitude, increased to £34,500 for the Limited (which is expected to account for 66 per cent of sales) and tops out at £36,500 for the Trailhawk version.
We opted for the all-singing, all-dancing Trailhawk model with six-speed automatic gearbox, 240hp, 350Nm of torque and a 0-62mph sprint time of just 7.1 seconds. The vehicle has a top speed of 124mph and combined fuel economy of 134mpg with carbon emissions of just 51g/km.
The Renegade 4xe can be driven up to 26 miles in pure EV mode and it would need to remain in that mode to achieve the best mpg figure. But as Jeep points out, most daily commutes are less than 26 miles and if the vehicle is charged at home overnight when tariffs tend to be cheaper, it offers excellent value for money.
When it comes to styling, the Renegade is a great looking model, especially in beefy Trailhawk guise. Eye-catching features include the traditional Jeep upright-slot grille, black side roof rails, square taillights, front fog lamps, circular headlamps, dark tinted privacy glass, 17-inch alloy wheels and Trailhawk hood decal.
The 4xe models stand out from the standard combustion engine models thanks to the blue 'Jeep', 'Renegade' and '4xe' badges, plus an additional port on the left side of the car for charging.
Moving inside, the Renegade has a quality feel to its design and layout with all the mod cons we demand these days.
There is an 8.4-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, sat nav, a six-speaker sound system with DAB radio, dual zone air conditioning with the ability to pre-heat the cabin before driving, and lots more besides.
There is high quality leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel, grab handles for convenience and additional ruby red accents throughout the cabin to identify the very upmarket Trailhawk edition.
When it comes to performance, the Renegade Trailhawk is the toughest of the line-up with the greatest off-road ability, including a Rock mode. And although we were unable to venture away from the Tarmac on this occasion, it can conquer difficult terrain with ease.
Out on the open road, the switch from electric to hybrid was seamless and the gearbox proved smooth and well timed as the vehicle climbed steep hills and attacked hairpin bends. The acceleration was good and the road holding also impressed.
On faster roads there is a little wind noise, but generally the car has a nice refined feel to it with the excellent suspension system ironing out any road undulations along the way.
There are different drive modes which can be altered on the fly by pressing one of the three buttons on the lower dashboard. Hybrid is selected for optimum fuel efficiency and will favour electric-only driving when possible with the engine kicking in under harder acceleration.
The Electric mode means you are driving with zero emissions and can be used for up to 26 miles or until there is no charge left in the battery in which case the petrol engine kicks in. Finally, the E-Save mode deactivates the electric mode in order to save the energy for later use.
Another dial called the Selec-Terrain is used to access the off-road options as well as a new Sport setting for improved throttle response and handling.
Generally all the dials and tech are quite easy to understand with more data about power usage, flows and charging status than the traditional Renegade models, but it's not an information overload.
There are two electric motors - one positioned on the front axle and the other on the rear - and the 11.4kWh, 400-volt lithium ion battery pack is neatly tucked away in a secure and protected position beneath the second row of seats.
The positioning of the rear electric motor does have a slight impact on boot space reducing the capacity from 351 to 330 litres on the 4xe models. But elsewhere there are plenty of handy storage compartments throughout the cabin, including cup holders, a central cubby box, door bins, trays, a glovebox and pockets in the back of the front seats.
Charging to 100 per cent takes less than two hours from a 7.4 kW wallbox or less than five hours from a 2.3kW unit.
As one would expect, Jeep has packed the Renegade with a wealth of safety kit, including the likes of advanced brake assist, forward collision warning and lane departure warning plus, intelligent speed assist, traffic sign recognition, blind spot detection, park assist, electronic stability control, and for the first time in a Jeep, a driver fatigue monitor.
All in all, it's clear to see why Jeep is so pleased with this latest version of the Renegade. It has all the charm, character and ability of the standard model, but now has the added bonus of clever hybrid technology which could attract all manner of new customers to the brand.