Made-in-India compact SUV is everything a Jeep should be
IT IS NOT EASY TO FIND YOUR WAY in the Indian car market as you have to navigate through the highways of consumer demands, not to speak of those back alleys of bureaucracy. It can be a tough challenge even for some of the most sorted global car-makers. However, Jeep, the iconic American brand owned by FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), are looking to find their way in this market with the help of their new SUV, the Compass. So, to see how exactly this new SUV tackles the Indian terrain, we headed to Goa for a first drive and this is what we have to say.
A shrunk Grand Cherokee is what the Compass essentially looks like. It appears big, but in a nonintimidating way. It has all the essential design elements such as the iconic Jeep grille, a generous dose of chrome and a few interesting bits like the chrome strip that starts at the A-pillar and goes all the way back to the rear windscreen. The minimalist design looks good and also manages to turn heads.
On the inside the story is pretty similar to the exterior. The cabin layout is simple with good quality leather upholstery and plastics that have respectable fit-andfinish. The black and white theme looks classy and the overall feel is pretty cosy. The front and rear seats are comfortable and there is ample knee-room as well. However, the Compass lacks adequate head- and shoulder-room and seating three average-size adults in the rear turns out to be a squeeze.
Feature-wise, the Jeep is adequately loaded with a touchscreen infotainment system that has multiple connectivity options, dual-zone climate control, steering-mounted controls, an easy-to-read twin-pod instrument console, reverse parking sensors, and camera. However, it misses out
on a few features that an SUV of similar stature would have like an electrically adjustable driver seat, a sunroof, and cruise control. Jeep have promised that the Compass will be available with various optional features that should address a few that are missing. But for that, we will have to wait and see what combinations are available when the Compass is launched in a month’s time.
Moving to the mechanicals, Jeep have equipped the Compass with a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, which comes from parent FIAT’s stable. There is a 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine available as well, but Jeep had only the diesel for the drive. This is the first time that we have experienced this MultiJet II diesel engine in India and its most noticeable aspect is the chatter. Even at idle, you can clearly hear the engine from a distance. Jeep have done a commendable job of smothering the sound inside the cabin, though, for there is hardly any engine noise or other sounds audible inside the cabin, hinting at good NVH levels.
The 2.0-litre motor produces 173 PS and 350 Nm, which may not sound like a lot but is adequate for most situations. The six-speed manual transmission has short
throws and shifts smoothly. The clutch action is light and you don’t have to make an effort either to engage or disengage the clutch.
On the go, the engine feels rough; the refinement levels not being up to the mark. There is noticeable turbo-lag, too; however, once past that the power and torque are delivered smoothly in a linear manner. Driving the Compass on the narrow streets of Goa was quite easy thanks to the light clutch, decent steering and ample torque. On the highway, however, it did feel a mite underpowered under sudden acceleration. To gauge proper performance we will have to wait for a proper road test.
One thing that impressed us was the Compass’ ride quality. This SUV features independent suspension with soft settings, which helps it absorb bumps and undulations without any problem. The tall stance and soft suspension hamper the handling a bit, though. The Compass tends to roll in corners when you push it at speed, which can be a little unsettling for the occupants, but overall stability is quite good. The steering response is good but the feedback could have been better. Brakes have adequate bite and the feel is good as well.
Overall, the new Compass is an SUV aimed at firsttime semi-luxury SUV buyers. Because Jeep are planning to price the Compass between Rs 22 and Rs 25 lakh (diesel) and Rs 18 and Rs 23 lakh (petrol), which is good pricing because there are hardly any rivals at this price point. There will be three basic variants available in both the petrol and diesel models. Furthermore, Jeep will be offering a number of optional accessories and various packs, giving the customers a wider variety to choose from. With no direct rivals, the Compass should carve a niche for itself. Meanwhile, we do hope that Jeep take care of the little niggles and iron them out before the launch, which will make the Compass a more competent product.
Simple looking dashboard has good fit-finish
The 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor feels underpowered