Jeep’s entry into the small SUV market begins today with the unveiling of the new Jeep Renegade.

Designed to attract new buyers to the Jeep brand, the Renegade is described by the company as a mix of off-road capability, open-air freedom and fuel-efficient engines.

Developed in conjunction with the forthcoming Fiat 500X, itself based on the 500L, the Renegade uses fully independent suspension that provides up to 205mm of wheel articulation and 220mm of ground clearance.

Koni frequency-selective dampers (FSD) help provide civilised road manners, while a new full-time 4×4 system – dubbed Jeep Active Drive – that is said to be able to channel up to 100% of the engine’s torque to any one wheel should ensure a respectable degree of off-road capability.

A new Jeep Selec-Terrain system offers up to five driver-selectable drive-train modes: Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud, and – on Trailhawk models – Rock.

Renegade Trailhawk models feature an upgraded Jeep Active Drive Low system that includes a 20:1 crawl ratio, 20mm increased ride height, skid plates, rear tow hooks, 17-inch wheels with All Terrain tyres, and Hill Descent Control.

The Trailhawk also uses unique front and rear bumpers to deliver a 30.5 degree approach angle, 25.7 breakover, and 34.3 departure angle.  It has a rated fording depth of 480mm and can tow up to 1,500kg, depending on engine choice.

Six engines will be available – four MultiAir petrol, two MultiJet II diesels – with transmission choices including a nine-speed automatic, two manual boxes and one dual-clutch unit (DDCT).

In Europe, the petrol units include a 138hp 1.4-litre MultiAir2 with 230Nm mated to a six-speed manual or dual-clutch DDCT, and a 1.4-litre MultiAir2 with 168hp and 250Nm with a nine-speed auto.  A 160hp 1.4 MultiAir and 184hp 2.4 Tigershark unit won’t make it over here.

Diesels are represented by MultiJet II units of 1.6 and 2.0-litres.  The 1.6 is available with a six-speed manual and produces 118hp and 320Nm, while the 2.0-litre unit is offered with either six-speed manual or nine-speed auto, and is offered in 138hp and 168hp versions, both with 350Nm of torque.

The 138hp petrol and 118hp diesel units are both two-wheel-drive only, the 168hp petrol will have the choice of 2WD or 4WD, and the 2.0-litre diesel will be 4WD only.

The design of the Renegade is said to have been influenced by the venerable Wrangler.  Two roof options – known as My Sky – will be offered with removable honeycomb fibreglass panels, one electrically operated.

The new Jeep Renegade is expected to go on sale in Europe later this year, although it may not arrive in the UK until the middle of 2015.