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Bodystyle, dimensions and looks

The Renegade’s European production base is the old Fiat Sata plant in Melfi, Italy. The facility is shared with the closely related Fiat 500X, but the Renegade is also more distantly related (via Fiat’s Small-Wide compact car platform) to the Fiat 500L and Tipo.

Like all other Jeeps save for the Wrangler, it has a unitary or monocoque chassis and independent suspension at all corners. Unlike others, it’s pretty diminutive – only just over 4.2m long, with a wheelbase of less than 2.6m – although a full complement of four passenger doors and two rows of seats make it a reasonably practical proposition.

Range-topping Trailhawk versions of the Renegade, intended for extra off-road capability, get M+S tyres and 15mm more ground clearance than their range-mates

Since 2018, Jeep has offered European buyers 1.0- and 1.3-litre petrol engines, in the latter case with and without turbocharging, with and without four-wheel drive, and developing up to 188bhp. A 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel is also available.

The new Renegade 4xe (pronounced ‘four-by-ee’) joins the range at the upper end of the buying spectrum. Its 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is ostensibly the same as you’ll find in other Renegades, but the driveline to the rear isn’t.

While the 4xe’s petrol engine drives the front wheels through a specially adapted six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, a mechanical four-wheel drive system is dispensed with and an ‘electric rear axle’ is adopted instead. This consists of a 60bhp, 184lb ft synchronous motor packaged over the rear axle and fed by an 11.4kWh drive battery that’s carried along the transmission tunnel immediately ahead of the 37-litre petrol tank.

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The 4xe is available in two mechanically distinct variations. Lower-trim versions use a 128bhp combustion engine, while the range-topping Trailhawk variant gets 178bhp of piston power, for up to 237bhp of total system output. That’s a broadly competitive figure for a compact plug-in hybrid SUV.

As the ‘maximum capability’ version of the 4xe, the Trailhawk also gets 15mm more ground clearance than lesser trims, as well as underbody protection plates, M+S (mud and snow) tyres and the full range of electronically controlled, off-road-intended traction control and hill descent modes.