Jeep Wrangler – just bloody good fun



By Philip Hedderman


The Jeep Wrangler is the ultimate boy’s toy – fact.


This is not based on some psycho babble or a JD Power survey.


Nope, it is forged on simple deductions – two to be exact.


Firstly, all little boys love Lego – building, creating then un-assembling in explosive fashion.


Secondly, there’s GI Joe in every single kid between 8 and 80 – hence the obsession with explosives and deafening destruction.


You see, that is founding DNA behind the Wrangler.


This is a proper off-roader which you can take apart panel-by-panel when your not careering down the side of a mountain or driving across a mine field.


Yes, on your day off (when you and your platoon are not saving the world from an evil megalomaniac) you could strip the old girl down and head for the beach -Californiastyle.


With the pull of a couple of levers the roof panels click off one by one leaving only the heavy duty roll cage visible and even though it was less than 8 degrees Celsius we wanted to go skinny dipping.


And the best bit…. you ain’t gonna get bogged down in soft sand or sneered at.


Not in this baby.


This is a genuine all-American, apple pie, stars ‘n’ stripes, kick-your-ass 4×4.


Thankfully it has shed its Mork and Mindy/Essex hairdresser image, thanks to the long-wheelbase 4-door version called theSahara(especially handsome in black).


No seriously.


Like the other two models in the range, the Cherokee and Compass, parent company Fiat have decided to make the Wrangler more suited to European life while retaining its iconic look.


So they’ve kept all the good bits – namely looks and off-road capabilities – and coupled them with improved interiors, engines and above all, handling.


Inside we have wall-to-wall luxury with heated leather seats; soft touch plastics at every fingertip, chunky bolted-in chrome grab handles and leather multi-function steering wheel.


There is lots of techno gadgetry to aid the driver including UConnect Bluetooth, iPod/iPhone control with music streaming, climate control and Hill Holder.


The engineers have been out with the silicone gun too as the cabin is so well insulated that you can actually listen to the radio and have a conversation with your passenger at the same time.


Incredible when you consider that all of the doors are detachable too.


But it’s under the vast bonnet is where the real improvements have been made.


Power comes from the same 2.8 litre VM Motori diesel 4-pot which has been tweaked to an inch of its life.


The result?


Well, economy has been increased by 20% while emissions have been reduced significantly.


This means that you now have a 4×4 capable of taking the mountain to Mohammed while returning 40mpg and annual road tax of €677.


In order to maintain that kind of economy Jeep use Stop/Start technology and a simple colour-coded eco system painted on the rev counter.


Up to 2,000 rpm a green line and the word ECO appears on the on-board computer to congratulate the driver on saving the planet.


From 2,500 rpm and upward the line changes from green to red and the words of encouragement disappear.


This worked especially well on motorways which can be kept in double check with the cruise control.


The 200bhp workhorse is lively enough around town, but don’t be fooled by the numbers, it won’t have the same poke as  luxury rivals with a 0-100kph of 10.6 seconds and has a top end of 172.


The gear change is slow and almost reminds me of the double clutching system on old articulated Lorries, but other than that it has a car-like feel about the drive.


But what’s lost in performance she more than makes up for in character.


That character spans back to World War II and the original Willys design which is stamped in military font ‘since 1941’ on the passenger side grab handle.


It’s so empowering that every trip to the shops turned into a ‘black op’ as you peered over the clipped-down bonnet heading for enemy lines.


You’d need to be Special Forces fit too just to climb in without using the step and the same applies exiting the vehicle as one adopts the parachute position before jumping.


Stealth bomber accuracy is needed to park this big bus as you have to factor in the almost foot wide bumper on the front.

Once parked though, the worry of taking a door hit are non existent thanks to the massive side step and flared wheel arches.


Your wallet won’t take a hit either as Jeep unveils its real secret weapon – price.


Even with the 2% VAT increase the Wrangler starts at €36,795.


Now that’s a whole lotta bang for your buck … if you’ll excuse the pun.