Jeep Renegade pictures and eyes-on: Fiat merger brings new 4x4

If you think that the Jeep Renegade looks a little like a Fiat on steroids then you are indeed onto something: because the Renegade is the first Jeep since owner Crysler merged with Fiat at the beginning of this year. It's not actually on steroids, of course, but you can see where we're coming from.

The name is a rather interesting take on that notion too, because renegade in its raw adjective form does mean "having treacherously changed allegiance". Hence the upscaled Fiat - a car company that's almost lent its 500 model's face to Jeep to see how it would come out. The answer, we think, is kind of cute, albeit a bit like the brother who didn't get all the good genes.

The Renegade is a smaller, softer-looking approach from Jeep. The SUV market is bustling at the moment, and Jeep is looking to keep the likes of Ford and Nissan at bay with its reinvention. It looks road worthy enough to star in the Zoolander sequel, but is also off-road hardy too, just as any 4x4 should be. "Designed in America, crafted in Italy", is what Jeep has to say.

Just like the new Jeep Cherokee - which we test drove last year - the Renegade comes with 2.0L or 2.4L engine options. But unlike the Cherokee, which we saw with an 8-speed box, the Renegade can be fitted with a 9-speed to combat those steep slopes.

READ: Jeep Cherokee review

Key to that engine is a range of powertrain options that will be positioned in different global markets. This really is Jeep's push for world domination in the SUV section in 2014.

A key difference the Jeep offers is the Renegade's open-air "My Sky" experience. Yup, you can ditch the roof panels to feel the air on your skin as you drive around. But with the soft-faced look of the Renegade you won't necessarily feel like you should be camoed-up like a soldier at war. And you won't need to be a weightlifter to make the transformation as the panels are made from honeycomb fibreglass polyurethane to keep their weight down.

In keeping with its all-new looks, the Renegade is the first to be built around Crysler's small-wide 4x4 architecture. What this means in real terms is a physically smaller car that will suit more road conditions than some of the Jeeps of old. Not considerably smaller, of course, as this is a Jeep after all and it needs to fit loads of gear inside. The Renegade measures 4.2m in length, is 1.8m wide and has a high ride position within its 1.7m overall height. Hardly a new Mini, but it looked visibly smaller than the other Jeep models on the company's Geneva Motor Show stand.

There's tech abound on board too, although we're yet to get on board and drive this latest model. We look forward to seeing whether it's cute looks met with a fierce ride when it's needed. Here's hoping.