Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

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.

Gearbox options

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.

Diesel engines

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.