The 2.0-litre diesel engine creates a regrettably agricultural vibe as it settles to its vocal idle. Where most modern cars produce about eight decibels less, the Renegade allows 54dB of engine noise into its cabin at idle, rising to 70dB at a 70mph cruise. It’s certainly not the start you’d hope for from a car that’s claimed to offer ‘the good manners of a passenger car’, and wider test experience suggests it may be a bigger problem in right-hand-drive examples than in European-spec left-hookers.
It’s a shame because, beyond refinement, the Renegade’s mid-range diesel engine has the right sort of character, being punchy at low and medium revs, quite strong in overall terms and always willing to work.
Dipping under the 11.0sec barrier for the 0-60mph sprint puts the car on a roughly level footing with most of its diesel rivals – most of them lighter but less powerful. But being able to accelerate from 30-70mph in fourth in about the same time as those rivals makes the Renegade feel that little bit more flexible and forceful from low revs than most of the direct opposition. The engine is decently responsive, too, and while its clatter becomes all the more noticeable as it works, it spins fairly cleanly to higher revs, losing its verve only above 4000rpm.
The accelerator pedal is linear and easy to manage, but the same can’t be said of the Renegade’s clutch pedal and gearlever, both of which feel rubbery and lack reassuring positivity when you’re engaging drive.
The gearlever doesn’t like to be hurried through the gate, with third gear in particular suffering from a lack of mechanical definition.
Brake pedal feel is respectable, allowing you to bring the car smoothly to a stop without making it pitch untidily. In something this tall, that’s welcome – and speaks of good off-road controllability. Outright stopping power isn’t brilliant but is acceptable enough, given the car’s mid-range 17in wheels and the damp conditions of our test.