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World’s original off-roader maker begins the switch from mechanical to electrified tech

The remarkable growth of the Jeep brand’s European business since it became part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now itself part of Stellantis, has been fuelled by several models but none more so than the one we’re revisiting this week: the smallest and cheapest Jeep but one of the most important, and now also one of the most technically bold.

The Italian-built, Fiat-platformed Renegade was unveiled in 2014, and in its second full calendar year on sale (2016) turned Jeep into the 100,000-a-year player in the European car market it had previously only ever dreamed of becoming. The bonanza didn’t stop there. The firm broke through the 150,000-unit threshold in 2018, with 45% of its Continental sales volume coming from you know where. Now the car is leading Jeep into the electrified era.

Trailhawk gets a two-tone bonnet as standard and can be had with a contrast roof as an option, but the former is a sticker decal rather than a painted finish, which might seem like another perceived quality bugbear

Arriving on UK roads late last year, the Renegade 4xe became Jeep’s first plug-in hybrid and it will be the first of several PHEV models set to drive down the lab-test CO2 emissions of its showroom fleet.

This won’t be some bit-part player adopted by a few but avoided by those who want ‘a proper Jeep’, either. It’s expected to account for a sizeable proportion of the car’s sales mix, and in one key respect – by dint of being one of only three four-wheel-drive options – it could be regarded as among the few proper Jeeps in the Renegade model range.

The Renegade line-up at a glance

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Substantial change has come to the Renegade line-up in mid-life. There is now only one diesel engine on offer, and it’s the sole Renegade with mechanical four-wheel drive. The only way to get two driven axles otherwise is to go for a PHEV. The electrified versions come either with or without a turbo for the 1.3-litre petrol engine. Trim levels range upwards from Longitude to include Limited and Trailhawk models. Other trim levels are on offer in non-hybridised cars.