- Published On: 9 June 2017
- 7 min read
Jeep’s locally assembled Compass is on its way here. How good is it though?
A short drive in the New Jeep Compass gives a really strong first impression – the company’s legendary off-road DNA is evident here.
On the outside
Its appearance is tough - the well-defined shoulder line, the sharp lines on the bonnet and those typically square and tough-looking wheel arches give this SUV a rugged air. The seven-slot grille and those slightly sunken headlights stare at you menacingly. This SUV looks like a baby Grand Cherokee – it’s endowed with the same handsome lines and a square jaw. From certain angles, courtesy the flat bonnet and long cabin, the car looks ungainly. Bigger wheels would have definitely helped this a bit. The shark fin-like D-pillar looks sleek, and the roof drops towards the rear in an almost Range Rover Evoque-like fashion, which is appealing to look at.
On the inside
Step inside the Jeep's cabin and you’ll notice that the dash looks quite boring and there are a few not-so-nice bits of hard and shiny plastic, the touchscreen is small and a bit fiddly to use too. Getting into the cabin is a climb, but the sill is wide, there's no side step to help with climbing in and out though.
Spare for these niggles, everything else is top quality, so much so that you feel like you’re in a luxury car. The soft-feel textures, supple leather, superbly finished bits of chrome add to this. Also, the car feels built like a tank. This top-of-the-line Limited 4x4 variant features premium Alpine leather on the interior. The seats, finished in ‘snow white’ are soft, supple and feel luxurious. The leather-wrapped steering wheel, the superbly crafted padded door pads, the metal-tipped gear knob that gets cooled by the air-con vents, and the easy-to-read graphics on the screen inside the instrument panel all come together to pamper you when you’re in the car.
The cabin is quite practical as well - space on the inside is huge, with plenty of leg- and shoulder-room. The front seats are extremely comfortable and the Indian car has a modified rear bench. There’s a lot more thigh support thanks to the longer squab, the seat height is just right, and the backrest is a tad vertical. The back-rest doesn't recline, however. There’s a rear air-con vent and extra charging point so the Compass will work even for the chauffeur-driven.
This car will come with a lot of safety kit as well - Four-channel ABS and ESP are standard, there’s Panic Brake Assist, Hydraulic Booster Failure Compensation, Electronic Roll Mitigation (essential in the US), Electronic Brake Pre-fill and six airbags.
You get four-wheel drive and Select Terrain, but for now, there is no diesel automatic version yet (a nine-speed is expected early next year). Some features that customers expect in this class are missing – like a sunroof, auto headlights and wipers, and an auto-dimming mirror.
From behind the wheel
This is a car you can have some fun in – you can use it to drive up ridges, clamber over medium-sized rocks and cross fields that have been ploughed, waiting for the rain. Adjust the ride setting using the Terrain Select dial, and be on your way. Through all this, the Jeep feels tough, solid and unbreakable.
The Compass rides like a luxury car - it settles down on slightly bumpy tarmac quite nicely. There's a bit of movement on sharper bumps and there's a hint of stiffness too, but overall ride is supple, absorbent and silent, just like most luxury cars. The car’s Frequency Selective Dampers adjust automatically for high-frequency bumps or body roll.
The car drives superbly on a straight line and the steering is quite impressive. Around corners, there’s quite a bit of roll. However, this is an SUV that is not averse to corners – there’s a really nice balance to it, and the confidence-inspiring brakes are a boon in corners. The well-weighted steering compensates for pull or drift. The steering is also extremely direct and, despite being a fully electric system, there’s a good amount of feel.
Under the hood sits Fiat's 2.0-litre Multijet II diesel, which is making its debut in India in the Compass. The motor makes 170hp, and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that largely sends power to the front wheels.
At city speeds, there's a bit of lag and power starts to flow in smoothly after 1,800rpm, from where it moves in a linear fashion all the way to 4,000-4,500rpm. Mid-range is solid, so you’re going to enjoy stepping on the gas. However, you shouldn’t be driving this car flat-out - the motor gets a bit boomy after 3,500rpm and once past 4,500rpm, it starts to feel extremely strained. The Compass cruises with composure happily between 130kph and 140kph and onwards.
Should you buy one?
The Compass is a seriously impressive SUV. It will launch in India in August and will be priced between Rs 23 lakh and Rs 24 lakh for this fully loaded version. You get a car that’s got good off-road ability, strong dynamics and plenty of luxury and comfort on the inside.