Smallest Jeep to date is a European-built affair headlined by high-spec Launch Edition. It’s also electric...

Although very new to the local market, the Jeep Avenger has arrived shouldering a major endorsement, namely the European Car of the Year crown. It dominated last year’s voting, suggesting this compact SUV has all the ingredients for top-quality everyday motoring. Petrol versions are available in overseas markets but we’re initially electric-only.

The shape is unmistakably that of a Jeep. Avenger’s chunky good looks feature an imposing prow and strong horizontal character lines in high-hipped body pressings, especially above the wheelarches. There’s just the right amount of brand-centric detailing and the proportions are spot-on – no mean design feat when you’re restricted to an overall length of little more than four metres.

There are a few launch-edition niceties to recommend, starting with leather-trimmed bucket seats that include a mild massage function for the driver and electric lumbar adjustment. Elsewhere there are 18-inch polished alloys, LED projector headlamps, a 10.1in touchscreen display, leather steering wheel and shifter, a foot-activated tailgate and almost every modern safety and security feature, including self-parking.

The colour palette is broad and the Ceramic Azure hue of our test car stands out as being unusual but curiously appealing. Look closely and the wheels and body feature versions of Jeep’s seven-slot logo, and a blue e-badge signifies emissions-free motoring. The front grille is finished in plastic and an X-shaped pattern fills the tail lights. The load space is broad and its 380L capacity respectable for a strictly compact SUV.

Total output is adequate for brisk getaways and comfortable overtakes but more important for many drivers will be the smooth, quiet progress throughout a real-world range of between 350 and 400km. There’s no disguising the weight in the undercarriage (the battery pack alone weighs 340kg) but ride quality is just as good as general stability. The anchors could give a more positive response with the initial prod but that soggy vagueness is a weakness with so many EVs we drive these days, a result of regen braking handing over to actual calipers, pistons and discs. The steering might be accurate but the wheel feels a bit numb.

The Avenger rides a fraction higher than electric equivalents from the Stellantis stable (Mokka-e and e-2008) but not to the detriment of open road handling. The broad tyres feature a tall 55-series profile and provide very good cushioning. With 200mm of ground clearance and front and rear skid plates, the Avenger could in future become an all-wheel-drive adventurer, and the drive mode menu already has Sand, Snow and Mud among the six options.

The battery can be fast-charged to 80 per cent in 34 minutes and features an 8-year/160,000km warranty with further peace of mind coming from a five-star ANCAP rating.


ENGINE Single electric motor

BATTERY 51kWh li-ion

OUTPUT 115kW / 260Nm

TRANSMISSION Single-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN Front-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.08m

WEIGHT 1600kg

WHEELS 18-inch alloy

TYRES 225/55 (f, r)

0-100km/h 9.0 secs

RANGE 402km (combined)

PRICE from $69,990



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