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MOTORS: Avenger is taking Jeep in a new direction

By Alan Douglas

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Jeep Avenger.
Jeep Avenger.

The Jeep may be the classic all-American beefy offroader but the latest model to bear the name is a complete contrast to that image.

The new Avenger is its first all-electric vehicle, designed and built in Europe to meet the enforced changeover from petrol and diesel power.

It’s a pivotal moment for the brand, which will see four more electric models by 2025 and a complete all-electric range by the end of the decade.

It’s taking Jeep in a completely new direction but it holds onto its image of freedom, adventure and passion for the outdoors.

Jeep Avenger.
Jeep Avenger.

Some will remember the name when it was attached to a pretty boring and unremarkable four-door Hillman. Jeep’s owners, the giant Stellantis Group, hold the rights to the name following Chrysler’s takeover of the Rootes Group and have revived it for the new vehicle.

The classic seven-slot grille, dating back to the original wartime Willys Jeep, is still there but where it used to cool the internal combustion engine, the slats are now closed and angled to improve aerodynamics.

The taillights have a distinctive X pattern which is taken from the classic American fuel cans which were also a feature of the Willys and Jeep enthusiasts will be delighted to know that the tradition of hiding what are called “Easter Eggs” has been carried on. These are symbols of the brand’s heritage, such as a miniature Willys profile at the edge of the windscreen, or other hints to its affiliation with nature and the great outdoors. The challenge for an owner is to find them all.

The Avenger is Jeep’s commitment to re-establish the brand in Britain, attract younger buyers and embrace electric technology before petrol and diesel engines are phased out. Prices start at £35,700 with the top-of-the-range Summit costing just under £40,000.

The Avenger clearly looks like a Jeep with the distinctive profile and bulging wings which make the wheels and 18-inch tyres look as if they are outside the body. It also has moulded body-colour cladding all round to reduce damage at low speeds where a painted surface would be scratched and scuffed.

The interior is simple and clean around a horizontal body-coloured beam containing the air vents and the 10.25 central touchscreen and ‘Avenger’ stamped on the panel ahead of the passenger.

It’s what’s under the surface that makes this vehicle different from what’s gone before.

The 400-volt electric motor is the first from a joint venture with a Japanese electric motor specialist and power comes from a 54kWh battery pack.

It has a claimed range of up to 249 miles or as much as 342 miles if it’s driven around town with starting and stopping.

Jeep Avenger.
Jeep Avenger.

Hooked up to a fast charge point, it should be refreshed to 80 per cent charge in less than half an hour or overnight on a domestic 7.4kW charger.

On the road, the car feels lighter than a conventional Jeep but the batteries help with stability through the bends. There are six driving modes including Eco and Normal but Sport brings in great liveliness although it does drain the battery much quicker. There are also Sand, Mud and Snow settings along with Hill Descent so you should be able to tackle a lot of challenging terrain.

A demonstration of its articulation, where it can cope with uneven surfaces, showed that as long as at least one of the driven wheels is in contact with the ground, you’ll keep going.

An all-wheel-drive version, the Avenger 4xe, will be here early next year.

The new front-wheel-drive car may have the latest technology but its greatest asset is its Jeep badge, which is well-established as the generic name for this type of vehicle, regardless of the make.

It’s the same as hearing people tell you they do their hoovering with a Dyson or a Bosch. Those same people, if they own a Suzuki, Kia or Toyota might just let you know they drive a Jeep.

Jeep Avenger.
Jeep Avenger.

Jeep Avenger Summit

PRICE: £39,600 (£42,125 as tested)

ENGINE: 400-volt M3 electric motor with 54kWh battery pack

POWER: 156 bhp

TORQUE: 260 Nm

TOP SPEED: 93mph

0-62mph: 9.6 secs

RANGE: 249 miles

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