The world around me is buzzing with people talking about the cricket team’s loss against Pakistan. Self-proclaimed experts, who otherwise bleed blue, are now dissecting the defeat and a blood red flow of abuses from their mouths just won’t clot. However, my mind is very clearly pinned to a day which went by, when Kevin Flynn, Duncan McMath, and their gang, spoke with a lot of heart and pride about the new Made in India Jeep Compass. Their words reeking of the authenticity in their efforts, which was clearly evident during our experience with the car later during our review of the all-new Jeep Compass.
Even when we had swarmed around the display vehicle, asking multiple questions, they answered all of them with pride and confidence. And in the longest time, I had come across representatives from a car company who were more eager than us to share what they had built, for they probably just knew it really is that brilliant. Just how much? Well, you’d be able to sample it yourself in some time, but until then, here’s an attempt to communicate our interpretation of what is a genuinely remarkable all-terrain vehicle.
Jeep Compass Engine And Performance
The Jeep Compass in India will be sold with two engine options – A 1.4-litre Multiair, good for 180+ hp with 230 Nm of torque, along with a 2.0-litre Multijet Diesel that cranks out 172 hp at 3,750 rpm and 350 Nm of twist between 1,750 – 2,500 clicks. We sampled the latter, which for now is paired with a 6-speed manual box that distributes power to all four wheels according to surface conditions. A 7-speed DDCT automatic option will be available too, but that will happen at a later date, post launch.
From the moment you step on the pedal and cycle through the cogs, the generous amount of torque spread through an easily accessible rev range is very apparent. As a result, making swift progress while driving on the road is a relaxed affair. Driveability for a turbocharged motor is excellent, where the Jeep Compass can easily pull away from a speed hump in 2nd gear, even with 4 adults onboard.
The 2.0 litre Multijet starts delivering strong performance from 1,600 rpm onwards, when the turbo starts to kick in, until about 3,500 clicks, post which, the climb starts flattening out. The six-speed gearbox is a joy to operate, where the satin finished metallic lever feels great in your palms, shifts with precision between gates and sticks in with eagerness like every position has a magnet which attracts the shifter. Fiat owners will love the Dog collar one has to pull around the lever, in order to slot reverse.
Open road performance is really strong and the Compass can get up to high speeds without any fuss. Backed by all that twist, progress is brisk and you may settle into a fast, yet relaxed cruise, thanks to a sixth cog. Getting past everything slower than you is easy, as all one has to do is stick that lovely lever into a lower position and enjoy the strong surge of torque to get by. If you enjoy wringing necks, you may do that too and the Compass will oblige.
Although fast paced actions will bring out that teeny-weeny lag we experienced, which is apparent ever so slightly when the gearbox re-couples with the drivetrain after you’re done shifting up, post releasing the clutch and getting back onto the gas pedal. Jeep clarified that this behaviour is deliberate to ensure the transmission system can handle all that torque efficiently while staying reliable for a longer duration.
Jeep Compass Ride and Handling
The punchy performance from that engine is matched delightfully by a chassis suspension combination which finds the perfect balance between a cossetting ride and fantastic on-road dynamics. Jeep has nailed it in the ride department by employing frequency selective dampers which work brilliantly to absorb tiny, but frequent undulations, along with finely tuned springs, which together make mince meat of the unsurfaced stuff and uneven patches on tarmac alike. The Compass rides with a tank like, authoritative, and indestructible feel, yet for that behaviour, handles brilliantly when you’re pushing it.
It drives with its claws dug firmly into the surface as it shovels its way forward like a body on frame setup. However, show it some bends and the monocoque chassis displays flex free composure. It doesn’t change directions like a hare alright but will go about like an angry croc which can throw its heavy head around violently. There is some roll, but it isn’t pronounced, so you can pick a line and the Compass sticks and stays put until you change direction to repeat the act. Straight line stability is superb and the Compass can hold steady at really high three digit speeds without any nervousness creeping in, even when surface conditions become variable.
The steering system offers amazing feedback as the Compass gathers speed, and we wouldn’t have known that it is an electronic setup, had it not been so effortless at dead speeds and Jeep telling us through a slide that it isn’t hydraulic. However, as we found out during our off-road experience, the isolation at low speeds leaves you being unaware of the position of your front wheel. But then it also returns swiftly to its neutral position, which helps. Out on the road though, it is one of those rare cyborg setups which isn’t all robotic.
The baby Jeep rides on Firestone rubber which surprised us with its abilities on the road and off it. There’s hardly any noise when the tyres roll on the black stuff and they go a long way in accentuating the all-around dynamics of the Compass. Brakes, on the other hand, felt slightly soft at the pedal when hauling things down from high speeds, where a little more sharpness dialled into the system would’ve made things perfect.
Jeep Compass Off Roading
Where the Jeep Compass is an endearing package to pilot on the road, it’ll make you reach out for that chequebook, the moment you take it off it. There’s a mode selector which you may choose to stick in ‘Auto’ or pick between Mud, Snow, and Sand. There’s no low ratio, but you do get a 4WD lock switch. First up, we took the Jeep Compass to the beach, dialled in the Sand mode, and although I know the basics, I am not a pro when it comes to off-roading. Yet, the Compass never even once felt like it could dig its own grave, and given its compact footprint and comparatively lesser weight than say an Endeavour or a Fortuner, it felt so playful it could play frisbee. So much so, we were deliberately drawing out of shape angles and inducing wag in the Compass’ tail after finding a patch of loose sand.
For the next day, a 3.5 km long off-road course was specially charted out deep inside a forest for us to assess the Compass’ abilities. We set off with instructions to modulate the B & C pedals, with a little dab on the gas when needed. Mud mode dialled in, the Compass started off by washing its feet through a little rivulet, and then yawned its way through a slightly steep, uphill section.
Next up though was a slippery section which tumbled downhill and offered little traction, for it was full of blades of bent grass, twigs and dead leaves, drenched in slush. Caressing the first two pedals from the left, the Compass sometimes gripped, sometimes slithered and made its way down. But then it had to now make a U-turn at an odd angle, in space only wide enough for it to turn around and climb up again. It did that with ease, mostly on its own, without requiring me to possess any special skills.
Approaching next was a slush fest, where my hard boiled instructor said, “Don’t fight with the steering, let go of the clutch pedal, and the car will do everything on its own.”
For the obedient human, I am, I did just that, and the Jeep Compass did what the instructor said, sliding out sometimes, falling back in line on its own even when I thought it won’t.
A bunch of photographers waited on the other side of a water fording, which the Compass walked through without folding its sleeves or trousers. I was still flummoxed that those slush laced tyres weren’t breaking traction even on wet, moss and algae filled pebbles.
Tyres washed, we were climbing up a slushy incline again effortlessly, only this time, calling in the ‘A’ pedal for a little momentum. A tight left turn at the top required backing off and a re-attempt, for we did not wish to plunge downhill.
But that was only because of my not so great skills off the road and instincts naturally trained to be considerate towards the machinery and the passengers, rather than the car itself.
Dismissing a section filled with boulders and another where they had laid some tree trunks horizontally, we reached the top which then broke out into a tight right hander that plummeted down as a pretty steep track and offered little traction. As we modulated the brakes and begun a gentle descent, the air curtain under the Compass’ front bonnet skillfully displayed its retractable qualities as it hit decent sized rocks.
Finally back on level ground, the final stage tested the Compass’ wading capabilities and departure angle. It involved suddenly entering a ditch full of muddy waters which nearly filled half the wheel well, then taking a sharp right turn while the wheels are still submerged to exit on the other side.
Everything dispatched, we were back at the base, looking at an impressive machine which looked great when dirty. For me, what left a mark though was how the rear passenger, the co-driver and myself were always comfortable inside the Compass’ cabin even when that thing was busy tackling some really challenging conditions.
Jeep Compass Interior And Features
Pull the door to get inside the Compass and it feels like you’ve opened a vault. Shut it and there’s an immediate feeling of being inside something solid and long lasting. A height and reach adjustable wheel felt just right in size as our wet shoes stayed firm on the patterned rubber mats.
Front seats are generous and get manual adjustment, which according to us requires effort, but is a faster way to attain a desirable driving position. Plus, it also makes it one part less if something ever has to go electronically wrong.
A twin pod instrument cluster gets electronic readings for temperature and fuel levels with a colour MID display that includes two trip meters, a display for oil and coolant temperature, a volt meter, outside temperature and the direction the Compass is headed in.
It’ll also digitally tell you what speeds you’re doing, instant and average fuel economy, range, the audio source in use, and allow control for vehicle settings like turning the Hill-start Assist, or the passenger airbag on or off.
The overall layout of things is great and the focus is on utility rather than being outright luxurious and flashy. Having said that, switches (except the stalks), the two-tone layout, that Ski-grey Mckinley leather upholstery and the fantastic gear knob do feel special and definitely premium.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen is powered by Jeep’s Uconnect system and is Android Auto and Apple Carplay compliant. Although it isn’t the last word if you consider touch sensitivity or even the way it delivers the rear camera feed, it gets the job done. Air-conditioning, media, an inbuilt compass and some parking and camera settings are among the things you may control through it.
The 6-speaker sound system isn’t an audiophile’s dream but will play melodies just fine through Bluetooth, a USB stick or any app of your choice. Sound starts distorting at high volume levels and things are decent as long as you haven’t decided to venture deep into the woods and go crazy.
All door pockets get bottle holder, there are two cupholders in the centre console, and both those areas are lit by some diffused white lighting once it gets dark. The cabin light console at the front gets separate illumination for each side and a little lamp LED lamp that focuses gently at the cup holders to help you find things.
The central armrest has storage space beneath and the lid can slide back and forth to help you find a comfortable resting position. For someone with long arms though, their wrist will find the gear lever set a little too low and far back, where the only solution then is to open the lid and then go about shifting. But then it keeps falling in place every time you brake.
Although I personally spent very little time in the backseat, I found that space pretty cosy. The window sill is set slightly higher up, but then taller folks will appreciate the amount of under thigh support from the rear bench and the generous amount of headroom.
Leg room too, if not opulent, doesn’t let your knees foul with the front backrest even if there’s a six-footer in the driver’s seat.
Some complained about the rear seat’s backrest angle to be too upright, including our photographer, but then as I found out, they had forgotten to lift the rear headrest up, which is a protruding type that will make your neck bend forwards. Oh and there’s a central armrest with cup holders and rear AC vents which make things comfortable.
Boot space at 408 litres isn’t what you’d call massive. Especially when the floor sits levelled out with boot sill
But then those rear seats can tumble down in a 60:40 split or both can go down completely to open up nearly 1,200 litres of space
Safety comes in the form of 6 airbags, an electric parking brake, all-speed traction control system, Electronic Stability Control, ABS with EBD, electronic roll mitigation and Hill Start Assist.
Jeep Compass Design And Styling
We knew that the Jeep Compass can draw attention, when a group of men spotted the car, then chased us as they flashed their headlights, only to stop, and then tap at the window to ask, “Can we please see the car?”
While we were at the beach, a lady who was running nearby stopped in her tracks, admired the car, and predicted its cost to be twice as much of what we think it could be. And we weren’t surprised, for the Compass looks smashing up front with those seven chrome lined slats, filled with an opaque honeycomb pattern. Shut lines are perfect, so is the paint quality, and everything you look at suggests premium.
A distinct illumination pattern for the LED DRLs set them apart, which also acts as an eyeliner for the projector setup
A really large bumper gets an opening for air intake and fog lamps which are underlined with chrome and capped by a strip of light which stays always on to meet the new regulations. The bottom part gets black cladding with a well-defined air dam that is highlighted by a strip of chrome. An air curtain helps with aerodynamic efficiency on the road. But it is made of soft, retractable plastic which comes back in its place if you hit any obstruction off the road.
Sideways, angular wheel arches take inspiration from Jeeps of yore, while the blacked out roofline is underlined by a strip of chrome that runs seamlessly throughout. We particularly like how the C-pillar rises up in the body shade to then smoothly curve out and merge into the rear windshield.
The rear tailgate gets a high set glass area which is capped by a roof spoiler. A licence plate sits in the correct position rather than being somewhere at the bottom, and along with those LED taillights, makes the Compass look dense and tightly packaged when looked at from the rear.
We love how the Jeep Compass has this very distinct visual energy surrounding it, which manages to convey the purpose of its outdoorsy existence with utmost ease. Yet, it still has that air of new-age sophistication around it which should and already is attracting many, just by the virtue of its looks.
Jeep Compass Details And Features Explained Through Images
We can put our necks out and say we’ve come back thoroughly impressed. The Jeep Compass has all the ingredients that make for a fantastic SUV. It drives really well on the road, is comfortable, and when you run out of the black stuff, for that thoroughbred badge it comes slapped with, its brilliance amplifies two times. Moreover, it is one of those rare modern cars you somehow develop a bond with.
Sure, you might say that the touchscreen is tiny and there’s no moonroof. But trust us when we say that you’d rather trade those things for a mechanically strong and well-engineered product that will take you anywhere. Jeep will announce the Compass’ prices shortly, which we speculate could be anywhere between INR 18 – 25 lakh. And how we really hope they get it right and back it up with a robust service network. Because otherwise, this one is an accomplished product that has all the makings of becoming a blockbuster.
Jeep Compass Prices
Compass Sport (Petrol): INR 14.95 lakh
Compass Limited (Petrol, AT): INR 18.70 Lakh
Compass Limited (O) (Petrol, AT): INR 19.40 Lakh
Compass Sport (Diesel): INR 15.45 lakh
Compass Longitude (Diesel): INR 16.45 lakh
Compass Longitude (O) (Diesel): INR 17.25 lakh
Compass Limited (Diesel): INR 18.05 lakh
Compass Limited (O) (Diesel): INR 18.75 lakh
Compass Limited 4WD (Diesel): INR 19.95 lakh
Compass Limited (O) 4WD (Diesel): INR 20.65 lakh
Jeep Compass Technical Specifications
Jeep Compass Petrol
Fuel Type Petrol
Max Power 160 bhp @ 3750 RPM
Max Torque 250 Nm @ 1750 RPM
Mileage (ARAI) 17.10 kmpl
Transmission Type Manual/Automatic
No of gears 6 Gears
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Jeep Compass Diesel
Fuel Type Diesel
Max Power 171 bhp @ 3750 RPM
Max Torque 350 Nm @ 1750 RPM
Mileage (ARAI) 17.10 kmpl
Transmission Type Manual
No of gears 6 Gears
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Jeep Compass Image Gallery