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First Drive

First Drive: Jeep Renegade PHEV

The story:
The Renegade 4xe is Jeep’s first electrified model for the UK and the start of its 4xe badge that will slowly be rolled out across other models in due course.
Category:Crossover
Key rival:Mini Countryman PHEV
Jeep Renegade 4xe Longitude
Price:£32,545 (P11D) List price - £32,600
MPG:134.5mpg (WLTP)
Emissions:49g/km
On sale:Now

Despite having plenty of admirers, including us, under normal circumstances the Jeep Renegade probably wouldn’t feature high up many company car lists. It might be ideal as company wheels for those requiring a small car with an almost unparalleled level of go-anywhere ability, but as a corporate choice the Renegade was always a somewhat niche option.

Until now that is. As its name suggests, this new Renegade 4xe adds plug-in hybrid technology to the baby Jeep line-up and, with 49g/km of emissions, a 26 mile fully-electric range and a temptingly-low 12% BiK tax bracket for 2020/21, the numbers alone may well be enough to change that choice as a company car from niche to nice.

The Renegade 4xe combines a 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine with an 11.4kWh battery to give a combined power output of either 190hp in the Longitude and Limited versions or 240hp in the flagship Trailhawk. This latter version’s 51g/km emissions do push it up an extra BiK bracket however to 13%, which will rise by a percentage point in 2021/22 and another for 2022/23.

Those tax savings obviously make it an attractive proposition if you need a small car with four-wheel drive and the 4xe isn’t that much pricier than the higher spec models in the standard Renegade range.

Jeep has cleverly located some of the batteries in the place of the usual car’s propshaft down the middle of the car, so while it’s a rather hefty 200kg heavier than usual, you only lose 20 litres of boot space. This means that the engine drives the front wheels while the electric motor drives the rears.First Drive-September 2020-Jepp Renegade PHEV- Image 1

However, a converter in the engine bay ensures that even when the battery is largely run down you will never be without four-wheel drive. The flagship Trailhawk version has also passed all of Jeep’s Trail rated tests, so there’s no doubting its off-road ability even if most buyers are unlikely to test it to that extreme.

On the road, the 4xe certainly feels not too dissimilar to the standard Renegade. Two brake energy regeneration modes enable you to recover energy, while the car is keener to coast with the system switched off. Unlike others though, with the system switched on, it offers a good balance of ‘mock’ engine braking without being too intrusive. Three further buttons enable you to either retain what battery level you have for later use, to save in electric mode as long as possible or the standard hybrid mode that the car defaults to when starting.

What is harder to escape however is that 200kg weight gain. The equivalent of two hefty rugby players on the back seat, it’s a lot for a vehicle the size of the Renegade to just shrug off. Clearly this isn’t a car that will be thrown around corners with the abandon of a hot hatch, but that extra weight is certainly noticeable when requiring sudden changes of direction or on roundabouts.

nat barnes

The verdict

This 4xe is certainly an interesting and worthy addition to the Renegade range. It may not be the most obvious corporate choice, but the plug-in hybrid tech and resulting low BiK will undoubtedly help the Renegade to attract more company car drivers than the before.