First drive: 2015 Jeep Renegade in Italy

First drive: 2015 Jeep Renegade in Italy


Jeep is an absolutely amazing brand that earned its heritage the hard way. It wasn’t by becoming popular as the ride of choice for dictators or royalty. It wasn’t by taking part in racing events that entertained a niche crowd. And it wasn’t by building cheap reliable transportation. Oh no, the “hard way” meant winning World War 2. Times have changed though, but current-owners Fiat-Chrysler seem to have strived hard to make sure some of that legendary heritage has rubbed off on the all-new Jeep Renegade.

The Jeep Renegade is tasked with the specific purpose of conquering markets like Europe and maybe Asia, which is likely why the international launch event was held in Italy. Downsizing is the way of the world at the moment, and simply slapping a Jeep badge on a Fiat 500X — with which the Renegade shares a platform — wasn’t going to cut it. So they built an entirely unique car that initially feels derivative and awkward in photos, but visually comes together very nicely in person. It’s what people should be buying in this segment, instead of overpriced hippie-movers like the Mini Countryman.

2015 Jeep Renegade 2

The Renegade is small, coming in only slightly larger than a Ford Ecosport. But the Jeep is a more premium product, aiming for a completely different audience. As such, the rather spacious interior is trimmed with a soft-touch dash and well-padded armrests, with hard plastics relegated to the upper door sills and lower extremities of the intricate centre-console. And they take every opportunity to let you know it’s a Jeep, with the “7-slot grille” logo and the “since 1941” tagline engraved in places all over the cabin. Heck, even the tail lights are supposed to hint at jerry-can designs from wartime Jeeps.

2015 Jeep Renegade 6

The Italian-built Renegade is extensively customisable, with options for silver or black exterior trim, several wheel designs, various upholstery colour combos and what not. Our first test car was a black car with a white grille. Under the bonnet was a revvy 109 hp 1.6-litre motor of some sort, with front-wheel-drive and a nicely-sorted manual transmission! It was surprisingly spritely, never feeling too underpowered, even holding the revs at 2500 rpm at 130 kph. It rides fairly smoothly on the highway, with moderate wind noise penetrating the cabin beyond 120 kph.

We drove it around village roads and fast highways, lamenting that this spec won’t come to the UAE. The GCC is getting a standard 184 hp 2.4-litre mated to a 9-speed automatic, more suited to local audience taste. We don’t mind more power, but that was a pretty good manual-shifter setup.

2015 Jeep Renegade 8

Next up was a green car with a silver grille and two-tone wheels. As we said, customisable. This one had a 118 hp 1.6-litre diesel, a manual shifter and all-wheel-drive, but truth be told, it didn’t feel any quicker than the tiny petrol engine, and ran out of revs quickly in every gear, as most diesels do.

With all four wheels managed electronically, the route we took with this one involved a forest trail, with a few moderate inclines and lots of ruts, all easily dispatched of. The ground clearance was more than enough for these mild hikes offroad.

2015 Jeep Renegade 10

We got back to base and then jumped into an orange Trailhawk model, looking all tough with black trim and wheels. The Trailhawk also comes with unique shocks, more ground clearance and offroad-friendly bumpers. Our test car had a 2.0-litre turbodiesel mated to the aforementioned 9-speed automatic and, mostly importantly, low-range gearing. Again, the GCC will get the 2.4-litre as well as the trademark red towhooks that are missing in these Euro-spec cars.

The Trailhawk is tremendously capable. We drove it around part of the offroad section at Fiat-Chrysler’s Balocco proving grounds. It involved very steep inclines, muddy ruts, articulation setups and what not, all of which the little car managed perfectly fine, without having to engage low-range or hill-descent control. Of course, the turbodiesel’s ample torque likely had a hand in it, but the bigger petrol motor coming here should do fine as well.

We noticed a few additional things too. First, the 9-speed auto seemed very well-matched to the diesel, picking the right gears and not hesitating at low speeds, and we hope it behaves just as well in the petrol version as well. The other thing is the Trailhawk rides a wee bit softer than the regular Renegade, though all versions handle just fine, basically like cars and not offroaders.

2015 Jeep Renegade 3

The Renegade is a truly well-engineered product, and Jeep went beyond the call of duty to optionally give a crossover the kind of offroad capability that the brand is famous for. Pricing-wise, it may initially appear expensive compared to its indirect rivals, but it offers so much in its little footprint — unique styling, space, power and optional offroad ability — that it’d be apt to describe it as a niche product for the masses.

For UAE/GCC prices and specs, visit the Jeep Renegade buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. design provided by Playmobil..

  2. Quirky little thing… I like it.

  3. Can you please tell us more about the 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk sound system?
    This is likely my next vehicle.

  4. My next vehicle sand black interior wish i knew when it was for sure going to be here taking my 2kford ranger 31k miles on it to my lucky brother in florida going at xmas but cant leave it without my renegade have to have a vehicle to get to work. been saving 10 yrs was getting the small liberty but they discontinued it so was ready to get nissan exterra then i got we ind of this cutie how soon as n i contact jeep to get one so excited for a senior

  5. the rear looks like a mini nissan patrol…overall design:funky

  6. Kia Soul has got some serious competetion. LOL

  7. I have been driving my Renegade for seven months. Only complaint loud rough idle .I was told the car is too new to figure out why.i know it is much better than the Patriot Jeep especially in pickup. Averaging about 18.1 mpg on city driving. I really like this vehicle and except for being made in Italy instead of America which I found out and was very. Upset about This because they preach buy American then sell you a foreign made car. I think Jeep should exchange it for a made in America Jeep like I thought O was buying,

    • @ Phillip C Joned,

      I’m planning on getting a used MY 2015 Renegade Longitude (done about 17k kms) here in Dubai. Test drove the vehicle and found it nimble and comfy enough for what i’m going to pay.
      I did however, read of certain electrical/ transmission related complaints online, (Most of these reviews were from USA) and was wondering if i really should be concerned about it.

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