Here are the first driving impressions of the new baby-Jeep – the Compass – which arrives on Indian shores in 2017.
Do you dream of having a fully-equipped real SUV without spending a fortune? Fret not, there’s one coming. Or, at least that’s what Jeep says about the new Compass that’s heading for global launch in 2017. The model that you see here is the second-generation Compass, which is currently manufactured in Brazil.
The mission of the Compass is clear – make Jeep a worldwide leader in the mid-size SUV / crossover segment. And to achieve this goal the new Compass will play a crucial role. In order to differentiate and conquer a customer who is both adventurous and traditional, the new Jeep tries to offer all the features that are typically found on higher end models.
[caption id="attachment_84455" align="alignleft" width="642"] The new Compass, especially its front fascia, draws inspiration from the most prestigious Jeep model in the line-up – the Grand Cherokee. And that gives it quite intimidating road presence.[/caption]
The first thing that you need to know about this drive experience is that the models we tested featured a suspension set-up dedicated to the Brazilian market. With the Compass 2.0 Multijet, we covered just 56-kilometres – which is the distance between Guarulhos (São Paulo) and Paraty (Rio de Janeiro). Our drive included highways, uneven roads, and mountain passes – while weather conditions varied from rainy to foggy at times. Suffice it to say, the first impressions of the Compass 4x4 are immensely positive. The first part of the drive touched two excellent national roads – Ayrton Senna and Carvalho Pinto till Taubaté, which gave us the chance to test the road-manners of the vehicle. The images you see on these pages, though, were clicked while on a racetrack in the state of São Paulo.
[caption id="attachment_84454" align="alignleft" width="642"] The materials used on the dashboard and door panels are pleasant to touch. The infotainment system gets a new-generation 8.4-inch touchscreen.[/caption]
Driving impressions? Well, the 9-speed gearbox doesn’t like to be hurried. While the performance is adequate for a car of this girth, the Compass appears to be a little slow in getting up to speed. This was quite evident when we hit traffic. From Guaratinguetá to Cunha, the roads turned into a simple and twisting carriageway, which gave us an opportunity to evaluate the vehicle’s cornering behaviour. Body roll is well contained, but the off-road tyres it came shod with don’t have the grip to inspire you to push hard. On the upside, the ride quality is quite impressive. The only caveat here is that the transmission, which seems to be a little slow – even in manual mode.
From Cunha – which is at 950 meters from sea level – till Paraty, it’s part of the ancient Estrada Real, used in the past by Spanish inhabitants to transport gold. On this day, however, it was raining and the roads were foggy. But what was more alarming was that the roads around here are made up of concrete slabs. As a precaution, I selected 4x4 ‘Snow’ drive mode. And, as I found out, it was quite pleasant to feel the vehicle well-anchored to the ground. The next day, we proceeded toward the nice BR-101 road, which runs along the coastline till Caraguatatuba. This time, I was driving a Compass Longitude, equipped with tyres more suitable for the roads. But, there was so much traffic that I couldn’t speed up. The only time I could accelerate was when we started climbing up to Serra do Mar, heading towards Paraibuna. The roads were excellent and the tyre noise decreased considerably. Then, in São José dos Campo, our convoy took the highway heading to Guarulhos. According to the company, one of the advantages of the vehicle’s complete all-wheel drive system is that if offers a low range (with a short first gear) along with the ability to lock the central differential. During our drive, we used the ‘Auto’ mode, which electrically distributes the torque, but allows you to choose between Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock modes. And, thanks to downhill descent control, its versatility is complete.
COMPACT IN SIZE, BUT BIG IN STYLE
The Compass represents the mid-point between the Renegade and Jeep’s more expensive models – the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler. Jeep, however, doesn’t want the Compass to be perceived as a sort of ‘Grand Renegade.’ In fact, the Compass has had its own identity in terms of style and size (it’s longer than the Renegade) from the very beginning of the project.
[caption id="attachment_84451" align="alignleft" width="642"] The Compass gets a transverse-mounted engine and independent suspension on all four wheels.[/caption]
On the other hand, the architecture, and hence the engine, transmission and suspension setup, are similar to what one would find on the Renegade – from which it’s also inherited its off-road capabilities. Therefore, the Compass has all the qualities of its younger sibling – but it goes far beyond. For example, its cabin is more generous, and the quality of materials and fit-and-finish are more sophisticated – similar to what you’d find in a premium mid-sized sedan.
The design of the Compass is a balance of sportiness, sturdiness and elegance. In Brazil, there are three two-wheel drive petrol options (Sport, Longitude and Limited) and two 4x4 diesels (Longitude and Trailhawk). The diesel variants are powered by a 168bhp 2.0-litre Multijet, paired to a 9-speed ZF automatic transmission. The Compass comes fitted with 17-inch (Trailhawk) and 18-inch (Longitude) wheels, but these specifications are specific to the Brazilian market.
[caption id="attachment_84452" align="alignleft" width="642"] Its design is sober but attractive, with a high body that sits on well-defined wheel arches. Around the tail, the horizontal tail-lights and its sinuous shapes are worth a mention.[/caption]
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