Instead of the Jekyll and Hyde clashing personalities that I had built myself up to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the seamless nature with which the powertrains switch. Of the three powertrain modes, which are switchable via buttons next to the gearshift, Hybrid constantly shifts smoothly between combustion and electric, while E-Save preserves the battery and replenishes it as you drive.
Meanwhile, the third, entirely electric mode – useful in environmentally-conscious city centres – comes with a fairly standard range of 26 miles. It’s easy to stick it in electric and forget about it, with the motor delivering the power to the rear wheels smoothly via a single speed reduction gear. It feels refined, and floats along silently. And that range is fairly accurate too, however accelerating and hillclimbing eat miles, while you soon regain them in E-coasting mode on the way down.
The Trailhawk edition features the higher 180PS power output of the 1.3-litre turbo petrol, and with the 60PS of the electric motor made for a combined 240PS. While you could never really describe it as powerful, it can still accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 7.1 seconds, with a top speed of 124mph (81mph in fully electric). It comfortably cruises at motorway speeds, with extra power still available for overtakes. There’s a new ‘Sport’ option (alongside Auto, Snow, Sand/Mud and Rock), although it holds on to gears just a little too long for my liking. On the road, it boasts firm yet accommodating suspension and soft steering, offering a comfortable, if disengaging, ride.
Torque, meanwhile, is where the 4xe shines, with the 250Nm (185lb ft) from the electric motor combining with 270Nm (200lb ft) from the combustion engine to make for brilliant off-road ability. Impressively, 4x4 mode is available even when battery level is low, with Jeep’s ‘Powerloop’ function allowing the combustion engine to generate high-voltage current to power the rear electric motor.
The Snow, Sand/Mud and Rock modes all proved their worth on the off-road section of our drive, with 4wd low, 4wd lock and hill descent control functional rather than gimmicky. 4wd low configures the car to provide maximum levels of traction and steering capability when under low grip and off-road conditions, while the lock function permanently engages the four-wheel-drive at speeds up to 9mph. In fact, it was off-road that the 4xe impressed me most, not suffering for the additional weight of the battery, and rumbling across various obstacles with ease. This is where the Renegade will have a real advantage over its competition.