For true off-roaders like the Wrangler, ‘good performance’ means something different to what it does for mainstream SUVs.
In the midst of a boulder field, healthy torque and a linear throttle are of far greater importance than the aural refinement and crisp gearchanges Mercedes might strive for with the similarly sized but road-biased GLC. Equally, if the Wrangler’s popularity is to grow, Jeep can’t afford to imagine that on-road drivability and refinement are unimportant – and, in fact, FCA’s 2.2-litre MultiJet-II turbodiesel does well enough on all counts.
The new eight-speed automatic gearbox must take much of the credit for this. For hardware designed to cope reliably with the stresses and strains of contorting dirt trails in California’s High Sierra, it is surprisingly smooth and well-mannered on the road, and contributes to the Wrangler’s appeal as an everyday vehicle.
Granted, during normal driving it has a proclivity to shift lazily into the highest possible ratio, but in the absence of a Sport driving mode, using manual mode to keep the engine in its 2000-3000rpm sweet spot is no chore.