Jeep's Grand Cherokee Trackhawk performance SUV has certainly triggered a positive response from fans, enough so that the carmaker is open to the idea of further Trackhawk models.
And while it's unlikey to produce 522kW like its big sister, the compact-sized Renegade SUV might lend itself to a model that could be dubbed 'baby Trackhawk'.
Jeep head of brand, Scott Tallon, stopped short of confirming that the company was looking at giving the diminutive Renegade the trackday makeover, but instead acknowledged the idea was an “intriguing” one.
“’Performance leaning utility’ is a relatively new concept,” Tallon said, speaking with TMR.
"There's only been a few players in this space. So as this space develops there could be an opportunity for anyone to capitalise on it, and as long as it meets our internal benchmarks, like the Trackhawk we have today, I think it's something worth taking a closer look at."
“At this time, though, [we have] no current plans. But the Renegade is intriguing, yes.”
The Italian-made Jeep Renegade, which shares its basic underpinnings with the Fiat 500X, is a logical candidate for a performance makeover, as parent company FCA could turn to Fiat partner Abarth for a range of go-fast goodies without outlaying vast sums for development.
Despite its SUV identity, the Renegade is no higher off the ground than a Toyota Corolla, meaning handling changes would be easy to achieve, as well.
The 1.4-litre turbocharged T-Jet petrol engine from the Abarth 595, for example, could be pressed into service readily easily, along with other modifications to front diffs and suspension.
First, though, the small Renegade will be relaunched in Australia later this year, two years after the car was released into a ferociously competitive small SUV space that contains the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi ASX.
Its current starting price of $26,290 before on-roads puts the Renegade well above its competitors in a very price-sensitive segment, with similarly-specced CX-3s starting at $20,490 and the older ASX kicking off at $25,000.
The relaunch is expected to realign the Renegade’s price points, despite price cuts coming soon after its national launch.
The Renegade hasn't a big hit for Jeep Australia, with just 1051 cars sold in its first full year on sale in 2016, versus 18,334 CX-3s. Just over 500 Renegades have found new homes to date in 2017.
However, the Renegade has been popular for Jeep in other markets, according to Mr Tallon.
“It's exceeding a lot of our expectations and we're bringing new customers into the showroom,” Tallon said. “For me, that's the most exciting thing. The majority of the individuals that are buying the Renegade [in the US], 80 percent of them have not owned a Jeep brand vehicle, and it's a much younger customer.”
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