Home' Motoring Plus : February 24th 2016 Contents THE NELSON MAIL Wednesday, February 24, 2016 — 11
- A irbag Suspension
- A ll Rust Repairs
- Bumper Repairs/Before Chroming
- Chassis Modification
- LVV Certification
- Metal Shaping & Fabrication
- Restorations and Panelbeating
- Roofchops and Bodydrops
- Stainless Moulding Repairs
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Rodz Ridez & Restorationz
12H Gladstone Road, Richmond, Nelson
Ph: 03 544 8446
Driving Jeep’s baby Renegade
Real Jeeps can come in tiny packages
– even when they’re part-Fiat and built
in Italy. By Damien O’Carroll.
The pint-sized Jeep
Renegade shares its
platform with the Fiat 500X.
ntering the burgeoning
baby-SUV segment with
the tiny Renegade was
always going to be
troubled ground for
Jeep. It could easily have been a
‘damned if you do, damned if you
don’t’ situation for the iconic
After all, if Jeep made the
Renegade too road-oriented it
risked a repeat of the
but if it made the car too hardcore
off-roady it could turn off
The thing with baby SUVs,
though, is that the people who buy
them really want the look. They
don’t necessarily care if their car
can make it through the Rubicon
Trail (the source of Jeep’s now-
defiled ‘Trail Rated’ badge, but
more on that later) – but Jeep’s
reputation and credibility is
based on just that ability. Damned
if you do.
Fortunately, Jeep seems to
have struck the right balance
with the Renegade, if our first-
drive experience with it in
America is anything to go by.
Thanks to some fairly
enthusiastic driving on winding
backroads in the northern
Californian redwood forests, the
Renegade proved itself to be
particularly appealing on the
road, while an afternoon of off-
roading showed that the
Trailhawk model also packs some
impressive off-road abilities.
Fiat Chrysler New Zealand is
set to launch Renegade in March,
but it’s yet to reveal prices and
final specification. We do know
that the car will arrive with the
1.4 -litre turbo and 2.4 -litre
Multiair petrol engines, hooked
up to six-speed manual and nine-
speed automatic transmissions
In various markets around the
world the Renegade will be
available with a surprisingly
large range of petrol (1.4 turbo, 1.6,
1.8 and the 2.4) and diesel (1.6 and
2.0 -litre) engines, as well as a
range of transmissions (five-speed
manual, six-speed manual, a six-
speed dual-clutch and the nine-
On city streets the Renegade
feels as small, nimble and
responsive as any good small car.
Not surprising, considering it’s
based on the same platform as the
Out on the winding
Californian backroads the
Renegade Sport is a blast. Nicely
precise steering and a nimble
chassis sees the Renegade able to
make the most of the feisty
1.4 -litre turbo mill, while the six-
speed manual transmission is
quick and accurate.
While the 1.4 was massively
impressive hooked up to the
manual transmission, the
2.4/nine-speed auto combo is less
accomplished. While the engine
feels strong enough, the
transmission seems to hunt for
the proper gear all the time. While
it was fine around town, it became
irritating on the open road. It will
be interesting to see how it
behaves on local roads, what with
our hills and all.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the
Renegade takes its styling cues
from the Wrangler, as well as the
original Willys Jeep. As is the
style these days, the Renegade
also contains a number of ‘Easter
egg’ design features to be
discovered – things like the tiny
Bigfoot traipsing across the rear
window, a huge number of Jeep
seven-slot grille icons and the
X-motif that represents the jerry
can on the back of the original
While all of this could come
across as silly, it works really well
on the little Renegade, giving it a
tough, yet friendly look that
should have wide appeal.
The high-quality interior has
trim that ranges from handsome
and conservative to wildly
vibrant and colourful, depending
on the model.
The Trailhawk is the Renegade
that really loves to play in the
mud, with its increased ride
height and serious off-road
While all 4WD Renegades come
with the Selec-Terrain traction
system featuring settings for
snow, sand and mud (or
automatic), the Trailhawk boasts
an extra setting for rock which is
essentially a low mode with a 20:1
crawl ratio. This makes it
surprisingly capable off-road.
Like a real Jeep.
The lack of a proper low-ratio
mechanical transfer bothers
many traditional off-road fans,
but they really aren’t the target
audience here. What the
Trailhawk can do is actually far,
far beyond what’s expected of a
baby-SUV. Yet it’s so accessible
that it may actually encourage
owners to explore those
capabilities a bit.
And, yes, the Trailhawk does
boast the Trail Rated badge on its
flanks. While this has
traditionally meant that the Jeep
in question is capable of getting
through the legendary Rubicon
Trail, Jeep now reluctantly
admits that the Trail Rated brand
is now a moveable target that
really just means a model is good
off-road, on an unspecified trail.
While the Renegade may
indeed be good off-road,
particularly in Trailhawk form,
it’s not Rubicon Trail good.
Fortunately, it’s also good on-
road, which matters far more to
the people who will buy it.
What was Steve McQueen thinking?
Steve McQueen: focused on the racing rather
than the film.
‘‘You’ve got Steve McQueen and you’ve
got racing. What more could you want?’’
So quips one of the interviewees in a
new documentary about the film Le
Mans (1971), and the American actor
behind it. There are several answers to
the above question. One of them is ‘‘a
As The Man and Le Mans reveals, the
crew started filming without one, and
kept filming past every deadline and
budget red flag, still without a script.
They often shot a variety of scenarios,
hoping they’d have enough options to
bang together a story after the fact.
The sprawling, irrationally expensive
project ran so long the track-side trees
had to be painted green, as autumnal
leaves weren’t going to look good halfway
through a 24-hour race.
McQueen was the top male lead of the
day and his starring role was to include
him actually driving in the 1970 race.
Unfortunately, the insurance company
McQueen had to console himself with
driving the Porsche 917 before and after
the race, having liaisons with up to a
dozen women a week (or so it is
suggested here), and bickering with
everyone else, on set and off.
After rolling a sedan one night, en
route to a tryst with his Swedish co-star,
he tried to steal another car to escape the
scene and avoid the tabloids. This led to
McQueen being chased by a French
farmer with a shotgun.
Did we mention his marriage was
breaking up? Or that he was becoming
increasingly paranoid, not helped by
discovering that he was on the Manson
Family murder list?
The documentary reveals that Le
Mans cost McQueen his love of motor
racing. After its anguished creation,
hostile reviews and box office failure, he
was no longer interested in going fast.
Within a decade he was dead.
You need to be keen to watch Le Mans,
and doubly keen to watch this. The
quality of the footage is variable, the
pacing is often ponderous and there are
some annoying directorial quirks.
But, hey, you’ve got Steve McQueen
and you’ve got racing. What more could
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