JEEP has launched its foray into the hybrid market, with the Renegade and Compass 4xe twins debuting two versions of a new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain as FCA Australia continues to monitor “the take up of electrification in Australia”.
While an Australian introduction remains up in the air, order books in Europe opened this month ahead of first deliveries being made in September.
Under the bonnet of the hybrid duo lays a turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with two electric motors (one on each axle) and an 11.4kWh lithium-ion battery.
Both models will be available in the classic Limited, S and Trailhawk trim levels with each variant having an increasing level of standard equipment – most of which is still to be detailed – and in the 4xes’ cases, different power levels.
Left to its own devices, the little internal combustion engine produces 97kW/270Nm in Limited guise with power jumping to 134kW when opting for either the S or the Trailhawk.
The electric motor on the rear axle meanwhile contributes an extra 45kW and healthy 250Nm.
When the ICE and electric power figures are combined, peak power for the Limited is rated at 142kW while the S and Trailhawk churn out 179kW – no combined torque figure is provided for either, but Jeep says the Trailhawk “boasts an increase in torque output up to 50 per cent” compared to the equivalent diesel.
Regardless though, Jeep says the more potent powertrain will propel the Renegade and Compass 4xe twins from 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 200km/h.
Gear shifting duties are taken care of by a six-speed automatic transmission regardless of variant.
In terms of fuel economy, the Jeep claims they will sip as little as 2.0 litres of fuel per 100km with up to 50km of pure electric range on offer – the electric top speed is 130km/h.
Explicitly regarding the powertrain, drivers can choose from three different system settings depending on their preferences at any given time, those being Hybrid (default), Electric and E-Save.
When in Hybrid mode, drive is sent to all four wheels – ICE power to the front, electric to the rear – with a priority given to electric power before the batteries gradually become depleted and the ICE takes over.
In Electric mode, the cars are rear-wheel-drive only until the battery runs out of range and the ICE is fired back up to take over.
E-Save mode then splits the two and can either maintain or charge the battery back up to 80 per cent.
Not neglecting the brand’s legendary off-road heritage, all versions of the Renegade and Compass 4xe come with high and low range, four-mode Jeep Selec-Terrain system with hill-descent control and a specially developed PHEV 4×4 traction system.
As with the rest of Jeep’s line-up, the Trailhawks are designed to be the most adventurous and capable off-road, boasting extra underbody protection, one extra Selec-Terrain mode (Rock) and a taller ride height, allowing the Compass Trailhawk to wade to 500mm – maximum depth is 400mm on all other 4xes.
To distinguish themselves from their traditionally powered siblings, the 4xes brandish unique blue design cues, primarily centred around the badging.
The front, side and rear badging are all adorned in blue surrounds and accents while the unique ‘4xe’ badging helps to make things more obvious.
Inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A new ‘Sport’ driving mode exclusive only to the hybrid line-up has also been fitted for better throttle response and “enhanced” steering.
Standard safety features shared across the range include Forward Collision warning and lane departure warning plus, intelligent speed assist and rear parking sensors while blind spot detection, parkview reversing camera, automatic park assist and keyless go are all optional.
With European deliveries tipped to start in September, FCA Australia said it was “monitoring the take up of electrification in Australia” and that its PHEV strategy would be ready to launch “as soon as consumer appetite, regulations and infrastructure suggests the time is right”.
According to the most recent batch of VFacts figures, Jeep Australia shifted 271 Compasses through the first half of 2020, accounting for just 0.6 per cent of the increasingly crowded sub-$40,000 compact SUV segment.
The Renegade meanwhile was officially discontinued as of February this year.