New car test: Jeep Avenger: At last, a lighter electric car!

The very first Jeep designed and built in Europe is an electric one. Hardly surprising, as the 2035 deadline is upon us. Jeep just made the most of Stellantis parts to bring its most compact car ever to the market. True, it’s a two-wheel drive car but this will soon be forgotten in favour of its reduced weight and typical Jeep look.

Based on the e-CMP2 platform, the Jeep Avenger shares its underpinnings with the group’s small SUVs such as Opel’s e-Mokka and Peugeot’s e-2008. At just over 4 metres, it is the most compact SUV in the B-segment, bringing opportunities to Jeep as it seeks to establish a lasting presence in Europe. Thanks to its very short overhangs, it offers approach and departure angles worthy of a real 4×4, making it easier to tackle pavement and parking ramps. As a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is not intended for the usual off-road use as other Jeeps. However, its raised ground clearance (20 cm) means it is not afraid to climb over certain urban obstacles. Finally, its bodywork was cleverly designed to cope with various city damages.

A trusted powertrain

The single electric motor produces 156 bhp and 260 Nm of torque. These are more than decent figures, thanks to a 400V motor powered by 54 kWh (in reality 51 kWh) lithium-ion batteries. These interesting figures enable Jeep to proudly announce a WLTP range of 400 km, or even 550 km in the urban cycle. The psychological threshold of 400 km has finally been reached, and should help the last naysayers to get over the hurdle. Jeep has also did a great job enhancing the charging part : the on-board charger is a 11 kW one compatible with three-phase alternative current and 100 kW direct current fast charging points. According to the data supplied by the brand, this is enough to recover 30 km in just 3 minutes, the time it takes to refresh a ristretto in an Italian bar.

During our test drive that was just under 100 km in the Namur region, fuel consumption was fairly reasonable at around 18 kWh/100 km, even though we did overuse the Sport mode a bit. We must admit that the moderate weight (1,500 kg) was enough to get nice feelings we had never experienced before with an electrical vehicle. Admittedly, performance is monitored : top speed is just 150 km/h while it takes nine seconds to get from 0 to 100 km/h. However, bot hits roadholding and the steering feel gave us confidence, even if the tyres moderately appreciated our driving. On the other hand, the six driving modes on offer, ranging from Eco to Sport and include Sand, Dust and Snow. These seemed useless to us, even though this nimble front-wheel drive car has a speed limiter for downhill driving, like its bigger four-wheel drive counterparts.

Technological interior

In town, its tight turning circle of 10.5 m should soon make it a favourite with trendy city dwellers, but its interior technological side is not to be undermined. Obviously, we tested the best-equipped and most expensive Summit version during this short test drive. It features two 10.25″ screens : the  central one is tactile and features the Uconnect infotainment system while a digital cluster faces the driver. The steering wheel is pleasant to grip and the driving position is quite good. However, we noticed some cheap plastics… these appear to be compulsory on electric cars to contain costs, or so we’re told. Fair enough.

Up front space is really impressive while in the back passengers over 1.85 m tall will quickly feel cramped. There are 34 litres of storage space inside while the angular boot offers a 355 litres volume. The tailgate opens with a flick of the foot under the rear bumper, something unique in this segment. The Avenger is priced from €38,500, in an attempt to attract private customers. However, prices soar as you move up the range and settle for upper trim levels. The Summit we tested retails for €43,500, quite a lot of money for a small B-segment SUV. Some  revolving credit offers available are pretty tempting, bearing in mind you will never own the car.

Primarily designed for urban use, the Jeep Avenger particularly appealed to us on… A and B roads, where its lowish weight and well- sorted suspension set up offer a driving experience almost worthy of an ICE car. We didn’t go as far as feeling shivers behind the wheel, true. However, its well-resolved design, generously-sized screens and reduced fuel consumption are strong points. Unfortunately,  some below average materials, approximative fit and finish as well as high prices will undermine its success in Wallonia. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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