Jeep Renegade, Heinrich Lingner, Luca Leicht Zoom

Pros & Cons: Genuine Jeep or fraudulent labelling?

The new Fiat 500X-based Renegade provided topic for discussion in the editorial office. How much real Jeep hides inside? Is it cool or just a lifestyle toy?

Heinrich Lingner likes the Italian-American

The colleague in the office beside mine believes that the only genuine Jeep from Italy arrived in early 1945, with General Clark and the 5th Army, over the Brenner Pass. And Luca doesn't like the over-the-top add-ons such as the painted mud splashes or stylised canister crosses. He is of course entirely right, and in actual fact, I do not care for such historical sanctimoniousness either. However, in the case of the Jeep Renegade I must make an exception, even if I would like it better without these design gimmicks.

And for precisely one reason: because it is a good car. I cannot remember when there was last a car from the Chrysler company that made such a convincing impression on me. Nothing comes to mind except the current Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The fact that the Renegade is not produced in Toledo, Ohio, but rather in Melfi, Basilicata makes relatively little difference to me if the result is like this. And of course it is much better that Jeep draws on a suitable, technical undercarriage, rather than knocking something together itself. In Ohio they have little experience with small cars, whereas in Italy they have much more. The Renegade drives well, its two-litre diesel is powerful and efficient, and there is also plenty of space inside. in addition, with its Selec-Trac all-wheel drive syste, it can manage impassable paths better than the majority of other SUVs in its class.

I find the Renegade great – a bold car that has more to it than people give it credit for at first glance. The Fiat group could do with a few more of these.

Luca Leicht doesn't tolerate deserters

I am actually a big fan of spaghetti westerns. Bud Spencer and Terence Hill are among the biggest heroes of my childhood. Unforgotten rainy afternoons on which I pulled VHS cassettes from the cabinet with my grandpa, and films such as "My Name is Nobody", "The Right and Left Hand of the Devil" or "Two Missionaries" flickered on the old tube television. The Jeep Renegade is trying to be a spaghetti western just like this.

Except, dear Heinrich, it doesn't quite pull it off. And aside from the seven-slot radiator grille up front, for me it has nothing in common with a true Jeep. There is no doubt that the freshly baked FCA Group is already sending much poorer cars out onto the road – but to be a true Jeep, the Renegade relies too much on the childlike designs of the chassis-donating Fiat 500X It is bland, tries too hard and is too soft - almost cute. Too playful, too lifestyle-oriented, to design-focused – simple too Italian. Fancy some examples?

How about the painted mud spots on the rev counter? Or the embossed spider that calls out "Ciao Baby!" behind the petrol cap? Or the stylised canister crosses that adorn almost every detail –from the cup-holder to the headlights. Here we are agreed on one thing: the Renegade will never catch sight of a metal canister such as this. The car has nothing to do with their rugged, wartime origin. However, presumably this was intentional. Why else would they have called the car the Renegade – a synonym for the word deserter.




Hans-Dieter Seufert


7 April 2015
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