Tony Rowen road tests the all-new Jeep Wrangler 2.2-litre diesel
THIRTY-one years after the launch of the first Jeep Wrangler, the latest incarnation of the iconic model has just been unleashed on to the market, and six days before its official launch in the UK I got to test drive this all-new model on a day when the weather was such that I didn't have to go off-road to test its capabilities.
The Jeep Wrangler is an undisputed off-road champion, but the new model delivers the highest levels of comfort and handling for everyday use, so it is just at home on the by-ways and highways as it is off road.
Wrangler aficionados will be delighted that the 2018 model retains its roots, from the popped-out wheel arches to the owlish headlights, seven-slot grille and boxy silhouette. What will delight them even more is the removable roof, while the doors can be taken off and the windscreen folded down to create the look that became so well known by the end of World War II when Eisenhower was ferried around Normandy.
After being revealed at the Detroit Motor Show last year, there has been a steady drip-feed of information about the all-new Wrangler leading up to its official launch last month.
To put some meat on the bones, both the Sahara and Rubicon versions come in two or four-door format offering two all-new engines - a 2.2-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel and a 2.0-litre turbo petrol version - both of which are mated with a new eight-speed automatic transmission and feature Stop-Start technology.
There are two four-wheel drive, active on-demand full time systems - Command-Trac and Rock-Trac, next generation Dana axles, Tru-Lock electric front and rear axles lockers, Trac-Lok limited-slip differential and an electric front sway-bar disconnect. There are also new LED headlamps and taillights and an array of safety and security systems.
The makeover hasn't been confined to the exterior. The interior combines authentic styling, versatility and functionality and is more stylish and comfortable than any previous Wrangler. The instrument panel features a seven-inch TFT information full colour LED display which can be configured to a driver's individual needs, while the centre console has an 8.4-inch touchscreen from which audio, navigation and climate functions can be operated. Integrated buttons on the steering wheel control audio, voice and speed functions.
There ample space for both the driver and front seat passenger, while the rear can easily accommodate three adults. The standard boot space is 533 litres which extends to 1,044 litres with the rear seats folded down.
My road test model - a four-door version with the 2.2-litre diesel engine - looked rugged and imposing on the Westaway Motors forecourt, and although climbing into the car, via keyless entry, is a bit of a stretch, it is worth it once inside. The cabin ambience oozes comfort, the driving position is upright with all the controls within easy reach. Pressing the push-button starter, the engine burst into life but is surprisingly quiet at idle and only really has some 'boom' when really pressure is put on the accelerator out on the road. The Wrangler can achieve 62mph in 0.3 seconds has a top speed of 99mph (where permitted) and its CO2 emissions are 209g/km.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine responds smoothly to the driver's input and with the eight-speed automatic transmission moves through the gears effortlessly, reaching the legal maximum 70mph without too much fuss.
The upright driving position gives the driver a good view of the road ahead, steering is responsive and the roadholding is firm. As the rain lashed down on my test drive, the car easily dealt with the large puddles that had formed on the roads.
The great thing about the all-new Wrangler is that although it is a king of off-road driving, according to those who know about these things, it is not out of place on motorways, rural or town roads. This revised and more luxurious model can easily handle the day-to-day driving requirements of people in all walks of life but with the added bonus of its off-road capabilities for the more adventurous.
This new version of the Jeep Wrangler has bags of character, meets the modern-day expectations of drivers, offers significant improvements over previous models and is the most capable ever.
Westaway Motors, the official Jeep dealer, received its demonstrator and display models ahead of the official launch last month, and the sales team were encouraged by the immediate interest from existing Wrangler owners and potential customers.
On-the-road prices for the Wrangler start at £44,495 rising to £47,995 for top-of-the-range models.
To arrange a test drive, view or for more information, contact Westaway Motors, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 8XD, telephone 01604 494121 or visit www.westawaymotors.co.uk