Jeep Renegade performance in the UK should be provided by a brace of three engines - one petrol and two diesels - and a pair of gearboxes. This could change before UK-specific specifications are announced, but these are the most likely protagonists for our roads.
There are also two gearbox options to choose from, a six-speed manual or a nine-speed automatic. Both 'boxes are excellent, but special mention needs to go to the automatic.
While on the face of it nine may seem like an excessive amount of gears, it's so well engineered that there's always a gear there for you no matter what you demand from the car. It shifts seamlessly and makes driving a real pleasure. There aren't any shift paddles hidden behind the steering wheel like many other cars, but we didn't miss them anyway. It doesn't seem in keeping with the Jeep's ethos, somehow. It's only available with the 2-litre diesel engine and four-wheel drive, though.
We're expecting the 1.6-litre diesel to be the more popular of the two engines. Its 120bhp and 320Nm of torque means 0-62mph takes 10.2 seconds.
The reason this engine will be popular is simple. It's the cheapest to run and it drives very well. There's a useful punch of power right where you need it, and although it has low running bills it doesn't feel at all slow.
If you're after more power or need the extra traction of four-wheel drive, you'll need to upgrade to the 2-litre diesel. This one comes with either 140 or 170bhp, so naturally it's quicker to accelerate. The manual gearbox only comes with the 140bhp version, though. That one does 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds. If fitted with the automatic, the 0-62mph drops to 10.2 seconds.
For the more powerful version you'll need to order the nine-speed auto' 'box as it doesn't come as a manual car. This one covers 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, and feels every bit as quick on the road. This is a particularly nice combination to drive with, and takes a lot of the hassle out of driving too, allowing you to concentrate on the road all the more fastidiously.
The Renegade handles surprisingly well for a car of this type. The Trailhawk model is the best - it features 15mm higher ground clearance than all other models and thanks to 4x4 and a host of off-roading features it's by far the most capable Renegade on offer.
Even the lowest spec we tried handled fairly well, though. Where the higher ride height of the Trailhawk model means a little bit of lean through corners, the lower 'normal' models don't roll around much at all.
The car feels stable and assured through lower and higher speed cornering, and even when you really push you don't feel it becoming flustered at all. It feels safe, and that's going to be a very attractive quality for a lot of buyers.
We think the steering is definitely worthy of special mention here. It's very well set-up for this sort of car. The weighting is brilliantly conceived and the feedback such that you always feel on top of the car when manoeuvring.
If you're going to venture off road - and many Renegade drivers will - then the Trailhawk model offers everything you'll need and more. We've tested its myriad electrical systems in more extremely conditions than you'd imagine and it performed faultlessly, even when faced with bigger hills than we'd have the courage to tackle.
It boasts a low-ratio gearing system called Jeep Active Drive Low, which really helps with challenging terrain. There's a hill descent control system which allows you to vary the speed of your controlled descent without worrying about the car running away from you. Just lift your foot off the gas and let the car do the work. Make sure it's active first, though!
Renegades with four-wheel drive get Selec-Terrain as standard too. This allows the driver to tell the car which conditions to expect, and the car adjusts its characteristics - such as throttle mapping and traction control - to suit. You can choose between Snow, Sand and Mud. There's an Auto function here too where you can let the car decide what's best.
Trailhawk models get a further Rock setting, which works in conjunction with Active Drive Low to provide the ultimate in off-roading set-up, holding onto first gear for as long as possible. You can't go very fast in this mode, but it works fantastically well when put to task on rough, steep surfaces.
The over-riding impression of the cabin of the Renegade is that it's tough. The interior has been crafted from what feel like high-quality, resilient materials and it feels like it would survive quite a battering.
Trailhawk models sport the most interesting cabin of the bunch thanks to coloured highlights on areas such as the speaker surrounds in the doors and on the dash. This breaks up the monotony of the somewhat dark materials used in lower-spec cars.
That said, there's a lot of glass which lets a lot of light into the cabin and with a light-coloured roof lining it isn't too bad in there regardless of the car's spec. We liked the dash arrangement too. Trailhawk cars get modern graphics that highlight the model's off-road prowess, but every model gets at least a trip computer that looks stylish and is simple to read.
The controls are very nicely designed and feel in keeping with the car, all having an assured action that feels very hardy.
Considering its brutish looks, you might expect Jeep Renegade comfort levels to be a bit on the sparse side. You're in for a pleasant surprise though: thanks to well-padded, supportive seating and forgiving suspension it's actually a pretty nice place to be.
The Trailhawk is by far the most comfortable. Its raised suspension seems to absorb bumps and holes incredibly well. The lower versions do suffer a little over the rougher surfaces we experience in the UK, but this can be dialled down by fitting smaller wheels with fatter tyres. The worst set-up is with the optional 18-inch alloys.
Another factor that helps in this respect is the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. Jeep has done a lot of work to make this car a quiet and comfortable place to be, and for the most part it's worked. There's definitely not much to worry about at motorway speeds, and road noise doesn't intrude unless you've got the biggest wheels installed.
The only real complaint in terms of noise is with the diesel engines. Both 1.6 and 2-litre versions did sound a little gruff at lower speeds, but once over around 30mph this fades into obscurity.