Facelifted Renegade - to road trip or not?

If you're a fan of road tripping, you probably love the Jeep Wrangler. But, is there any value in a Jeep where you can't remove the roof?

There's no denying it. GT MAG loves Jeep for many reasons. But, perhaps the loudest reason is the feeling of the adventure. When you drive a Jeep you cannot help but feel a sense of roadtrip nostalgia, even if you're stuck between city lights and destined for a suburban garage.

That's if you're in a Wrangler, of course. For, remove the roof and pump the tunes and what you get is the iconic American experience, but in South Africa, which is even better because, well, Africa bro...

Few would argue that the Moab is more striking than the Kalahari and none, who have been to both, would ever suggest that the Namib is less spectacular than Nevada. When landscapes are as epic as Southern Africa's, it's very easy to preach with confidence: A road trip here is one worth taking thrice and one without a roof is the most memorable one of all.

Who doesn't want to road trip in a Wrangler - and who, in their right mind, would take a road trip in any other type Jeep?

Do Jeeps with roofs defeat the point of Jeep and is there any value in a little one like the Renegade, which has one?

The Jeep Wrangler Nacho - a concept for the 2018 Moab Easter Jeep Safari.

Well, it's important to understand that the iconic Jeep shape, or the Wrangler shape, is the classic shape. Everything else was born from it and every other derivative is a Wrangler warped and watered down.

Years ago, the challenge then for Jeep was creating fresh-shaped Jeeps that boasted the same amount of road trip character and ruggedness as the Wrangler, but dressed in something a little more conservative for the humans who didn't necessarily like their road trips with sun burn.

For the most part, Jeep succeeded over the years and successfully reworked the icon to please the masses. We got fancy Jeeps, expensive Jeeps, ugly Jeeps and in the case of the recent Trackhawk, a Jeep so ridiculously fast that it should be declared illegal (we say with a smiley face).

Jeep unveil juiced-up Trackhawk

When the Renegade arrived three years ago it became the latest piece in this watered down puzzle and the newest Jeep that strangely didn't do very Jeepy things (jip, that's what you'll get if you buy the two-wheel drive Renegade bro). Still, it arrived with so much character that it was hard not to take notice: The Renegade fully captured the essence of the Wrangler and by association, it seemed to capture the soul of the road trip.

It is unmistakably Jeep, especially when bought with Jeep-star and all; it's compact, but butch front-row rugby stance is high-five-able even with a roof and the lights out back are sick. Without doubt, it's best look is army green or all black, and it is perfect for the semi-adventurer.

It's built for the Drakensberg getaway, for the driver who doesn't quite want a Wrangler (because it's too big and says too much) but also isn't boring enough to settle for a Hyundai Tucson.

Now, three years later we have a facelift and it is as characterful as ever. A slightly tweaked front end now comes with (what looks like) LED running lights, and it adds to an all-round well-ageing machine. Although it is unclear what Jeep South Africa will give us yet, there are also new engines to potentially look forward to, as well as others to raise eyebrows at.

One of those is a 1-litre that develops 88kW, which is downright wrong. Our favourite will likely be the unchanged 2-litre diesel because, well, you know, the Kalahari and all bro...

The road trip and all...

The feeling of the African drive and the spirit of who we are.

We welcome the facelift. We welcome the road trip. And yet again, we welcome the Renegade. The small Jeep. The cool one that even comes with a roof.