Jeep launched its new Renegade series this week with an action-packed program in Far North Queensland's Daintree Rainforest and in Port Douglas. Guests dined with a Taipan snake at dinner, swam with blacktip reef sharks and one journalist was almost swept away by a current at the Mossman Gorge - but you couldn't possibly launch a new Jeep without a little bit of adventure, right?
Jeep's head exterior designer, Mark Allen, travelled from Detroit Michigan for the event, which kicked off with a chopper trip from Cairns airport to Port Douglas across the Great Barrier Reef.
Allen says the new Renegade models take inspiration from the brand's two other signature models, the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee.
"I call this car the gateway drug to Wrangler," says Allen. "It's a little bit of an easier transition to that Wrangler lifestyle. It's a great city car, but is also capable of taking you places that other cars can't."
Of course, the essence of every Jeep is its 4x4 capabilities, and the steep grades of the eldest living rainforest on the planet provided the perfect terrain to put the Renegade's Trailhawk model through its paces. A swim at the Mossman Gorge and a boating trip to the Low Isles on 90-foot motorboat MV Bahama weren't too bad either.
On the design story behind the new Skittle-coloured Renegade models, Allen said they were keen to turn the playfulness up a dial.
"The number-one word working on this vehicle was its character," says Allen. "It just cuts such a different profile to our other cars. As a designer I really get off on that."
"Easter eggs", as Jeep calls them, are sprinkled throughout the Renegades: hidden design details for you to discover over time (a tiny Jeep decal climbing up the windshield and a certain something behind the rear-view mirror, for starters). "Some of them are so hidden you won't find them for years," says Allen. "We can get away with it in a car like this. It really captures the spirit of Jeep."
On the northern bank of the Mossman River at the wooden-decked tree-houses at Silky Oaks Lodge.
Local produce from the Daintree, Julatten, the Atherton Tablelands and the Reef. Lunch included a tropical seafood feast of local smoked coral trout, scallops and sand crab at QT Port Douglas's Bazaar restaurant; dinner, served by the river at Silky Oaks, featured tangy tiger prawns cured with sugar cane, and a rich Daintree chocolate and pecan nut dessert were the stars.
Tanqueray G&Ts with fresh juniper berries.
The Trailhawk four-wheel-drive model. It comes with the option of the "My Sky" system where the roof panels on the vehicle pop out and can be bagged and stored. Hello, summer.