Jeep is renowned for its off-road excellence and adventurous attitude, often associated with sayings like ‘pavement is optional’.
Sports & Fitness Magazine was one of the first to welcome the newest Jeep family member, the Jeep Renegade, in Italy in 2015. In the midst of the mayhem of Fashion Week in Italy, the Renegade, also known as the ‘baby Jeep’, made a memorable appearance. Though perhaps somewhat ironic that the Jeep would appear for the first time in Italy, a place characterised by narrow cobbled alleys, iconic scooters, and quaint hatchbacks, the all-American Renegade, unlike any other Jeep, is the most compact of its siblings and can fluidly navigate the Italian streets.
Italy is also known for sporty, elegant cars, appropriately preluding the versatile Renegade model, which fuses these characteristics with those of the classic Jeep. The Jeep Renegade has a robust and sporty box-like exterior with signature Jeep grills and a roof rail similar to that of the Wrangler but very different, in that it is accessorised by modern chic curves. Trendy fog lamps are available in a variety of interesting colours ranging from Jungle Green, Mojave Sand, and Omaha Orange to Alpine White and Carbon Black, giving the car a very lively personality intended to mirror that of the owners. The interior exaggerates this feel even further with elegant premium leather (tablo), leather shift knobs, and exclusive ambient interior lightening, accented playfully with orange tints. The interior also features a digital speedometer, integrated voice command, and a trendy, premium Beats sound system.
A few months after its Italian debut, the Renegade four-wheel drive arrived in Egypt, determined to push the car to its limits. As always, we decided tojoin the Jeep Club on an off road adventure into the Egyptian desert, challenging iton thin sand like no one has done before. The Jeep Club has been operating for 17 years and provides opportunities to enjoy adventurous desert expeditions, satisfying the adrenaline rush Jeep owners so often seek to experience, while enforcing top notch safety measures. In addition to conquering sand dunes and rough trails, expeditions usually visit notable historical or natural landmarks. Lucky for us, the expedition we were going to embark on was to the quickly disappearing Petrified Forest in Fayoum. With so few solidified trees left and such a harsh dehydrated climate, it is hard to imagine that sometime ago this used to be a living forest. Enroute, we would also stop by Lake Quaron, a well-known site in Fayoum.
Showing up early in the morning at a well organised meeting point stood a large number of the Renegade’s older siblings: Wranglers,Cherokees, and Grand Cherokees. We must admit, the size difference was somewhat worrisome. Being the most compact of its kind, we could not help but question whether the Renegade’s size would prove a challenge to its off-road abilities on such an adventure. We were worried that the toddler would not be able to keep up with the big boys, but nevertheless we were determined to try. We were handed walkie-talkies, given car number badges for identification and a short briefing on the route, and off we went.
Sporting a sunroof unlike we had ever seen before, the Renegade proved to be the closest vehicle to a convertible that we could get in Egypt. Scorching sunrays from the roof and music blasting from the integrated Beats sound system, we sat comfortably sunken into the premium leather seats as we prepared to face the day’s adventures with open arms. Elegantly gliding on the asphalt, the Renegade is surprisingly smoother on-road than the Wrangler, but how does it compare off-road? As we shifted the elegant leather toggle to Sand mode, activated low gear, and switched off traction, we were about to find out.
With a heavy foot on the gas pedal, the Renegade held its own with the convoy through thin and thick sand, wiping away any worries we might have had owing to its size. If at times it seemed a struggle to keep up, just an extra push vamping RPM up to four would activate the turbo engine for a noticeable thrust in momentum, allowing the Jeep to comfortably keep up with the pace of the convoy. On dune summits, the Renegade was able to distribute torque smoothly between the wheels on the ground and those in the air, giving the car a forceful feel even in difficult situations.
All of the fun accessories and playful options would mean so little without the Renegade’s built-in safety mechanisms. Believe it or not, even die-hard Jeep fans appreciate rock solid safety. In addition to the standard airbags, tire pressure monitors, and parking assistance, which have become standard features, the Renegade features a number of advanced safety features. One such feature is electronic stability control, which senses differences between the driver’s intended path and the vehicle’s path and reduces engine throttle to manoeuvre the vehicle back to the intended path using lane sensors. Radar sensors on the mirrors account for blind spot monitoring, and a voice command system allows you to wirelessly use your mobile phone while both hands are on the stirring wheel, removing any distractions that can draw your attention away from driving safely. The total 70 advanced safety features put in place offer you the peace of mind you need to comfortably embark on adrenaline-filled adventures, or even make your way through the chaotic jam-packed Egyptian streets filled with pedestrians and unexpected obstacles.
Having the entire Jeep family out in the desert, we can comparatively say that the Renegade’s closest sibling would have to be the powerful Wrangler, though the Renegade’s compact size is considerably closer to the ground, possibly causing it to graze on a few rocks that the Wrangler would easily dodge. On the other hand, the closest sibling in terms of comfort and elegance would have to be the Grand Cherokee, offering ample comfort on asphalt and tasteful leather interior with a touch of the sportive Wrangler feel. One can say that the Renegade is a true hybrid of the other vehicles in the Jeep family, bringing together the best features of each model in a more compact body, making it suitable for congested Egyptian streets and never-ending parking distresses. The Renegade will certainly satisfy adrenaline seeking Jeep lovers looking for a suitable on-road vehicle with off-road tendencies.
Test driven by: Ibrahim Selim
Photography by: Nour Eldin Amr
Written by: Rana Tohamy