Jeep Com­pass

FIRST UK DRIVE Our ver­dict as all-new cross­over mixes tra­di­tion and tech

Auto Express - - Contents - Lawrence Al­lan Lawrence_al­lan@den­ @Lobal­lan

All-amer­i­can 4x4 spe­cial­ist in­tro­duces its new SUV to the UK

JEEP has en­joyed ex­ten­sive growth in Europe over the past few years, mov­ing from around 300,000 sales in 2009 to nearly 1.4 mil­lion in 2016. That suc­cess looks set to con­tinue, too, with cars like the all-new Com­pass vy­ing for mar­ket share against some es­tab­lished class gi­ants.

Those who recog­nise the Com­pass name may re­mem­ber the last model, which was launched in 2011. It lasted three years be­fore slow sales forced its axe, but Jeep has higher hopes for the new car.

De­sign is al­ways sub­jec­tive, but it’s also a cru­cial as­pect of a Jeep’s rugged ap­peal. All the ba­sics are there, with an up­right front end, the trade­mark sev­enslot grille and trape­zoidal whee­larches adding plenty of ma­cho ku­dos. Some bright colour op­tions give it per­son­al­ity, although the styling won’t be to all tastes.

While the out­side is a wel­come de­par­ture from the fam­ily cross­over norm, the in­te­rior is a bit of a dis­ap­point­ment. Qual­ity is ac­cept­able enough; aside from the cheap­feel­ing col­umn stalks there are enough high-grade, soft-touch ma­te­ri­als and a rea­son­ably solid feel. It’s no Volk­swa­gen Tiguan, but it’s far nicer to sit in than be­fore.

It’s just a pity that there’s lit­tle of the per­son­al­ity found in the cheaper Rene­gade; few of that car’s funky ‘Easter egg’ de­tails have trans­ferred to the big­ger Com­pass, and it’s all a bit dark and char­ac­ter­less. The seats are flat and fairly un­sup­port­ive, too, while rear vis­i­b­lity is pretty woe­ful thanks to those thick C-pil­lars. A rear-view cam­era is only stan­dard on Limited spec and above.

Still, the up­dated 8.4-inch ‘Ucon­nect’ touch­screen in our test car is fit­ted to all but the base mod­els. It’s large, clear and re­spon­sive, with plenty of fea­tures in­clud­ing An­droid Auto and Ap­ple Carplay. The de­sign is busy, though, with a mass of menus to nav­i­gate through. The Com­pass comes with a raft of safety tech in­stalled, con­tribut­ing to the car’s ex­cel­lent five-star Euro NCAP rat­ing; the old model man­aged only two stars.

Prac­ti­cal­ity is a mixed bag. The Com­pass has 7cm added to the wheel­base com­pared with the Rene­gade, and that has a big ben­e­fit for legroom in the rear. Av­er­age-sized adults won’t find their knees touch­ing the seat­backs, but we’d avoid the panoramic sun­roof, which lim­its head­room. The 438litre boot is un­re­mark­able, too; a Tiguan adds nearly 180 litres to that fig­ure.

We tried the 1.6-litre diesel, which is ex­pected to be more pop­u­lar than the 2.0 litre, de­spite only be­ing avail­able with front-wheel drive. The base en­gine feels sprightly, though, with strong enough per­for­mance for most needs and bet­ter re­fine­ment than the coarse 2.0. It still gets rau­cous above 3,000rpm, how­ever, and there’s more vi­bra­tion through the con­trols

“The Com­pass han­dles well. It stays flat in bends, and the steer­ing is light, but ac­cu­rate and quick”

than in the best cross­over ri­vals. Ei­ther way, a claimed 64mpg is im­pres­sive.

The Com­pass han­dles bet­ter than you might ex­pect, given Jeep’s off-road bias. It stays rea­son­ably flat and level in the bends, and while the steer­ing is light, it’s ac­cu­rate and quick. The car feels grippy and con­trolled in most con­di­tions, but the ride lets the side down. For all Jeep’s talk of ‘fre­quency se­lec­tive’ damp­ing, it seems to fid­get about on A-roads, and while the soft set-up deals with large bumps, sharp pot­holes can un­set­tle it. With Jeep cit­ing premium cars such as the BMW X1 as com­peti­tors, we ex­pected a more so­phis­ti­cated drive.

Where the Com­pass is likely to have an ad­van­tage is off road. Of course, that will only ap­ply to 4x4 ver­sions, and whether it jus­ti­fies the price is another ques­tion. This Limited model is more ex­pen­sive than a top-spec Peu­geot 3008, but un­der­cuts the equiv­a­lent Tiguan – although bosses at Jeep prom­ise that fi­nance deals will be com­pet­i­tive.

“The 1.6 diesel feels sprightly, with strong enough per­for­mance for most needs”

Lat­est 8.4-inch touch­screen is of­fered on all Com­pass mod­els bar the en­try-level ver­sion. On the whole, the cabin feels solidly built

NEED TO KNOW Jeep ex­pects that the base petrol Com­pass will out­sell the equiv­a­lent diesel – a first for its modern line-up

EN­GINE The 1.6-litre diesel pro­vides peppy per­for­mance and is more re­fined than the 2.0 litre, while it’s claimed to be ca­pa­ble of 64mpg. It’s not avail­able with the four-wheel-drive sys­tem, how­ever

STYLING Ma­cho de­tail­ing and trade­mark Jeep de­sign touches help the Com­pass look dis­tinc­tive, but the in­te­rior is lack­ing in char­ac­ter when com­pared with the cheaper Rene­gade

EQUIP­MENT Even the base Com­pass is well equipped, while Limited spec comes with pow­ered and heated leather seats, a heated wheel, park as­sist and 18-inch al­loys

PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY There’s a good amount of legroom for adults, but spec­c­ing the panoramic roof lim­its head­room for taller pas­sen­gers. A 438-litre boot falls short of the class best

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