Crossover Contest: Funky, fresh and functional, the Jeep Renegade looks to enter a segment dominated by cars like the Audi Q2 and the MINI Cooper Countryman.
I remember a time when buying a crossover signals the end of singlehood and marks the start of parental compromises. This is perhaps the fault of the crossover boom, no thanks in part to the popularity of cars like the Uber-fied Honda Vezel and the family-loving Nissan Qashqai.
As a result, we tend to think of crossovers as cars for the uncool. But that’s all about to change with the introduction of modish models such as the Audi Q2, the Jeep Renegade and the MINI Cooper Countryman, of which the American-dreamed, Italian-built Renegade is the latest to join the lot.
I like the way you look
In terms of design, the Renegade seems to be a smaller rounded adaption of the iconic Wrangler. Depending on how big a fan you are of the latter, this could be a good or bad thing. To us, it’s a great attempt by Jeep at remodelling a classic for broader mass-market appeal.
That’s, however, not to say that the other two Europeans in this fight out aren’t much of an eyeful because the Q2’s hawkish demeanour will definitely appeal to sporty city types, while the Countryman’s meaty proportions accord it a great deal of unmistakable road presence.
I like the way you move
Looks aside, it is in the way they drive that really sets these three cars apart, and this is where the Q2 and Countryman outshine the Renegade.
Compared to the aforementioned Wrangler, the Renegade is a big step forward in terms of driving refinement for the brand.
Wound up above 3,000rpm, its turbocharged 1.4-litre powerplant provides decent performance and is pretty refined, but loses out significantly to the levels offered by both Audi and MINI.
Sadly, it’s not just the engine that disappoints the most. Its steering offers little feedback to the driver, and is also rather artificially-weighted.
At the same time, it scores points for being the most engaging car to drive, providing the best steering weight and feel of the three, inspiring confidence during enthusiastic driving stints.
14 Jul 2017 | Text by Nigel Yong, Photos by Low Fai Ming