We are anxious, could this be the perfect SUV India needs?
Our destination was about three hours from the hotel, deep inside the Netravali wildlife sanctuary. The idea of the drive was to get us acquainted with the Jeep, driving on the highway straights and twisties and then move into the forest that is home to rather relaxed beings such as the Black Sloth and predators (Leopards) alike.
We didn't have to worry much as we had a predator of our own. The new Jeep Compass. Still very much bad boy Jeep, Grand Cherokee-ish and we love it already.
Jeepin it real
The seven-slat grille with chrome accents, square wheel arches and a tough shoulder line complete the brawny exterior. We love the way this car looks in its various colour options, but we bled blue for this one.
The 2.0L Multijet II diesel engine churns up 173PS of power and develops 350Nm of torque which is available in judicious levels between the 1750 - 2500RPM mark. That helps for a spirited highway cruise / overtaking or evening for a intercity sprint.
Power never feels inadequate no matter what gear you are in as the motor pulls nicely but it is happiest in the midrange. The six-speed manual gear box is a good unit and the gear knob makes shifting fun. Jeep should be launching the car with an automatic gearbox next year. Until then manual is the way to go.
As we drove through the ghat that leads to the Dot 4x4 course at Netravali, the Jeep proved to be ample fun to drive, with minimal body roll. The suspension handles the undulations well and the ride is comfortable both for the front and rear occupants.
The car feels planted overall even when pushed hard. The ride is a bit on the stiffer side but we aren't complaining. We did feel the brakes could do with more bite though.
While the lack of a sunroof narrows our grin, Jeep makes it up by amping up its safety package which include six airbags, Four-channel ABS, ESP, and Panic Brake Assist, to name a few.
Jeep has done a genuinely fabulous job when it comes to the interious of the Compass. Once you get inside, the overall build and finish is mostly impressive sans some plastic bits. What we do love is the right mix of Alpine leather and chrome on the inside. However the good bits don't end there. Even the door shuts with a proper satisfying 'thud' and the cabin is nicely insulated from exterior noise.
Finished in white, the seats look palatial, but will probably be a pain to keep clean. We love the overall thigh support offered and even if you cross the six feet mark, your knees won’t be complaining.
More creature comforts
The 7in touchscreen display is decent but not as responsive as you would’ve liked it. However the infotainment system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and there is a 6-speaker sound system to immerse yourself in.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel is chunky and feels lovely to work with. You can adjust it for rake and reach. Steering is not as precise as we would have loved but nothing worth crying about.
Into the wild
The Compass was a lot of fun throughout the various sections which included water fording. It is incredible how a car that looks so unassuming can glide through knee deep water with such ease.
Even as you drive through sections of rain pounded mud, the car pushes you to keep rolling. There are areas where it might slip out a bit, depending on how well you can massage the throttle and steer but overall if you are the adventurous types, the Compass won't dissapoint.
Slush smoothie anybody?
This is a proper 4-wheel drive car and is offered with 'Selec-Terrain'. Meaning you can switch between various drive modes such as Snow, Sand, Mud, or Auto depending on the terrain and the 4WD Lock ensures that you will be able to drive out of tricky situations without a fuss.
We drove through the course, traction, incline and areas dotted with bare rocks and logs of wood were dealt with authority. The Jeep did not give up, neither did it take away the fun factor, which is the whole point when you get behind the wheel, isn’t it?
This car with its unassumingly pretty exterior is surely capable of taking on quite a bit of roughery that mother nature has to offer. Once you are done with that, simply get back to the road and indulge yourself all over again.
The new Compass congregates all the things Jeep has learnt over its rich past and comes across as a car that is fresh both in the looks and engineering department. It is a treat to drive on road and can easily tackle things off it. If you always wanted that perfect little SUV that can belt out the goods as far as creature comforts and ride go, this is it.
The Jeep Compass starts at ₹14.95 lacs for the base Sports petrol variant and going up to ₹20.65 lacs for the Limited diesel variant (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Photography: Yatish Suvarna
Ex-Showroom Delhi prices
1) Sport for ₹14.95 lacs
2) Limited Automatic for ₹18.70 lacs
3) Limited Automatic (Optional) for ₹19.40 lacs
1) Sport for ₹15.45 lacs
2) Longitude for ₹16.45 lacs
3) Longitude (Optional) for ₹17.25 lacs
4) Limited for ₹18.05 lacs
5) Limited (Optional) for ₹18.75 lacs
6) Limited 4WD for ₹19.95 lacs
7) Limited 4WD (Optional) for ₹20.65 lacs