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Wrangler impresses after a fashion

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Wrangler impresses after a fashion

Jeep’s Wrangler – Trail Rated, as it proudly proclaims in its badging – should get you anywhere.

But whether or not it gets you over your pique at the price is debatable. At £44,865 for the two door Sahara, and that’s without another £2,000+ for the metallic paint and Launch Pack that delivers McKinley leather upholstery and heated front pews, this is not a cheap car.

On the other hand, if you spend heavily on being fashionable there’s no better way to arrive in your designer gear than this Wrangler. The test car, black all over apart from its silver alloy wheels, was certainly out to make a statement.

The Wrangler looks as if it should pack a massive V8 petrol engine but up front is a mere 2.2 litre turbodiesel that meets Euro 6d standards so is as clean as it can currently get for an oilburner. Anyone who misses the availability of a new Land Rover Defender might well be fascinated by the Jeep as an alternative. When it comes to off-road prowess, and even claiming to be the first of its type, the Jeep can stand proud. It was, after all, wartime Jeeps that donated chassis to the first Land Rover prototypes.

The Jeep has a huge bluff front like a Land Rover and a slatted grille that’s mimicked by the Suzuki Jimny. However, when it comes to the practicalities the Jeep is hardly more impressive than the diminutive Jimny as in two door style it’s small inside and rear access is even more difficult than with the Suzuki because of the Jeep’s height.

What Land Rover fans won’t admire, and Jimny owners can feel smug about, is the Wrangler’s towing capacity at just 1,497 kgs for a braked trailer. The lowly Jimny, less than £20,000 at its most expensive with a 1.5 litre petrol engine, can shift 1,300 kgs. It’s the original seven stone weakling kicking sand in the face of the tough guy! Buy a used Defender and you will have a 3,500 kgs towing ability but as few people will want the Jeep as a working tool it may not matter unless they need to shift a heavy boat trailer.

Like the earlier Land Rovers, the top of the Jeep can come off to strip the car back to a platform for seats. Unlike the Land Rover, there’s a sturdy roll cage that stays in place after the roof panels plus the rear side windows have been unclipped. For the full flies-in-the-face experience you can also fold the windscreen onto rubber cushions on the bonnet.

The bonnet panel itself is full of blanked vent panels that must be there just for style so they should not cause concern when exploiting the Jeep’s fording depth of up to 760 mm at 5 mph.

The turbodiesel delivers 200 bhp at 3,500 rpm and plenty of torque with its 450 Nm at 2,000 rpm. Power goes to the wheels through an eight speed auto gearbox, quite possibly the best way to get a car through sticky conditions as there’s never any break in traction while ratios shift. Four wheel drive courtesy of Command-Trac full-time 4x4 (it has selectable 4x2 as its normal running setting for hard roads) also offers low range which should get the Wrangler out of any trouble most humans have the courage to encounter. If you like to arrive in style no matter how remote the event people will know you’ve got there!

What will surprise every Land Rover owner on the planet is that the Wrangler despite its bluff front, 2.2 litre diesel engine, and off-road prowess will deliver 38 mpg as a normal running figure. The last Defender we drove also had a 2.2 litre diesel but liked a drink, averaging 22 mpg with much lesser performance on-road. That said, even the Defender’s slack steering felt tighter than the Wrangler’s and it had space to rest your left foot.

The next Defender is obviously more like the recently-dead Discovery 4 if you study the “spy” shots Land Rover has been feeding out so may not appeal to the diehards who like the utility look of the old car or this Jeep, which still has its spare wheel hanging off the tailgate that has to be swung aside first before the rear window can be raised to access the load area.

While it has shortcomings, experience shows dedicated Jeep fans will stump up the money to get one.

                                                                                                                                              

Car: Jeep Wrangler Sahara 2-Dr 2.2 Multijet-II (200)

 

Does it fit your ego...

0-62 mph: 8.9 secs

Top speed: 112 mph

Bhp: 200 @ 3,500 rpm

Torque: 450 Nm @ 2,000 rpm

 

...and your wallet...

Price: £44,865

Combined: 37.7 mpg

CO2 emissions: 198 g/km

 

Best bits: unadulterated, old fashioned 4x4

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