With the demand for the Jeep Compass showing no signs of slowing down, we drive the only automatic transmission version of the Compass currently available.
With its runaway success, the Compass’ launch has proved that, at the right price, the Indian public is more than willing to lap up a good product – even if it’s from a brand that’s been absent in the country for many decades.
Of course, given our urban traffic conditions, there is now sustained demand for automatic cars, which was not the case till a few years ago. To cater to this section of customers, the Compass comes with an automatic gearbox paired with a petrol engine. The engine is a 1.4-litre Multiair turbocharged unit, which produces 161bhp and 250Nm of torque. Importantly, the peak torque of this engine is delivered between 2,500 to 4,000rpm, which is significant in how it drives – but we’ll come to that later.
The initial drive experience of the Compass reaffirms the praise that the car has received. The ride-and-handling balance of the car is spot-on, and the high seating position provides great visibility. However, I do think that the glasshouse of the Compass is a bit on the smaller side – especially at the back – and it make you feel a little claustrophobic in the cabin. This feeling is further intensified by the Compass’ cabin space, which is a bit on the tighter side. However, the interior fit-and-finish and quality levels are excellent and feel very premium. The infotainment system, though, left me a tad disappointed, as the icons on the touchscreen are on the smaller side and can be a bit fiddly to operate. But, the sound quality of the stock audio system is quite impressive, and the Apple CarPlay functionality works quite well.
Coming back to the engine, the Multiair is a pretty refined unit, which revs quite snappily and is fun to drive. When pushed, the Compass shifts along quite quickly and offers praiseworthy performance. The rock solid high-speed handling allows the Compass to be very composed at high speeds. However, I’m not really a big fan of the 7-speed dual clutch gearbox. It works decently in most conditions, but struggles in stop-start traffic. But this isn’t the fault of the gearbox alone. Like I mentioned earlier, the Multiair delivers its peak torque at 2,500rpm, which is a mark that most of us don’t hit in heavy traffic. This means that the motor can feel quite sluggish at slow speeds, and this problem is exacerbated by gearbox mapping that initiates upshifts at the earliest possible opportunity – to keep the efficiency numbers in check. So, when you see an opening in traffic and nail the throttle, the Compass hesitates at first – and, by the time it gets going, that gap has closed. So, if you’re an impatient driver like me, this can be quite frustrating. The obvious solution would be gearshift paddles to allow manual shifts, but, unfortunately, the Compass doesn’t come with these.
But, to give credit where credit’s due, in every other kind of driving condition, the engine and gearbox combo work quite well. And, as long as you keep the engine on boil – which is to say above 2,500rpm, the Compass will have no problem in terms of power delivery. So, as long as you’re not accustomed to jumping at every gap in traffic, you won’t be too troubled. Honestly, it’s a small price to pay for the convenience of an automatic. Of course, if it just came with gearshift paddles, there would be no problem at all.
- Jeep Compass AT
Engine: 1,368cc / Inline-4 Cylinder / Turbocharged
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual-Clutch / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 161bhp @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 2,500-4,000rpm
Price: Rs.19.56 - 20.26 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-factor: An automatic gearbox makes the Compass even more compelling – the slight issue of low speed lag aside.
• Great design
• Excellent fit-and-finish
• Slow power delivery at low revs
• Missing gearshift paddles