An invite to attend a celebration of my closest friend’s commitment ceremony in Alibaug was what got this party started. What made it even sweeter was driving there in a Jeep Compass
Now this is a SUV that has got the maximum eyeballs in the press since its unveiling last year. The kind of impact the pre-launch and launch generated is exactly how Jeep India would have envisioned it. And selling 19000 of them since the launch has made the Compass a resounding success.
The fact that it impressed everyone at the technical immersion in April last year is an understatement. The build-up and hype surrounding it leading up to the launch added to the allure of the Compass. Jeep India didn’t disappoint. The pricing was extremely competitive and now the Compass had truly arrived.
So how is the Compass to drive and live with?
On entering the car, the first feeling you get is how Jeep has merged style with comfort. The seats have very good lumbar support, with easy to use seat adjustment levers. As you start the car the infotainment screen pops to life. It comes with an array of features such as Bluetooth, radio, navigational compass. The steering wheel comes with a leather wrapped cover and the usual array of controls that have become standard amongst modern cars.
The Compass I drove was a 6-speed manual. As soon as you put it in gear one the refinement of the gearbox becomes obvious. I drove it around my house in Lokhandwala late in the night on empty roads the first day and one couldn’t stop and marvel at the ease of comfort the Compass drove with. Not the way one generally describes a SUV! That’s actually a compliment to the detailing and thought that has gone into the design of the Compass.
Next day we left for Alibaug before the crack of dawn. Driving in Mumbai at that hour is such a pleasure. My wife and 2 friends travelling with us were each carrying individual sections of the wedding cake. Lots of instructions were flying back and forth on how I should drive avoiding the potholes etc.
Getting out of Mumbai before 7 o’clock has become the default motto for out of town road trips. We did encounter little bit of traffic near Chembur but nothing that delayed us for long. Once we got past Vashi, the roads widened and that’s where I got to experience the full power of the 2.0 Multijet II Turbo Diesel engine. Go past 3000 on the rev metre and the Compass springs to life making you forget that one is driving a SUV.
So far, the journey was on good roads hence the suspension of the car wasn’t really tested. That changed the moment we got off the Expressway. When we checked how far we were it showed 50 kms from our destination. Not much of a distance if the roads are good. But the roads just went from good to worse in a matter of a few kilometres. It was like we were transported 20 years back to a time when India still didn’t know the concept of expressways and good roads.
This is when the superior drive quality and suspension setup of the Compass kicked in. The Compass comes with the Jeep brand’s famous FWD capability called Jeep Active Drive, which is equipped with Selec Terrain Traction Management System.Though we were travelling at very slow speeds not once did anyone in the car complain of discomfort. The Active Drive 4×4 System that seamlessly switches between two-wheel and four-wheel drive made this a walk in the park for the Compass.
It also offers the Electric Parking Brake (EPB) across the range in 4 modes. This is the only SUV in this size and classification to offer this. The Compass comes equipped with Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) a technology that provides variable damping that adjusts to road undulations. This is usually only available in performance and luxury vehicles. The adaptation to the Compass makes it stand out in ride quality.
50+ safety and security features make this one of the safest SUV’s in India. These features are Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Dynamic Steering Torque (DST), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Adaptive Brake Lights, and Panic Brake Assist amongst many more that will be standard across the range. Six airbags with dual stage passenger airbags are on offer as well. It is being manufactured in 50 different trim, powertrain, transmission and colour combinations so Indian customers have an extensive range of options.
When we finally reached Alibaug after 4 hours I realised that the Compass is extremely fuel efficient. The Compass comes with Driveline Disconnect Technology (DDT) which disconnects the drive that goes to the rear wheels automatically when not required. This helps in fuel saving and assists safer driving. The air conditioning is top notch. The fact that the cakes arrived in fully edible condition is testimony to how well it works J
The next day and half that I spent driving it in Alibaug on empty roads was extremely enjoyable. The Compass enjoys the twisties as much as the straights.
Is the compass the car I would buy? Definitely but would look at the automatic considering our traffic. Highly recommended for someone looking to a buy a sub 25 lakhs rupees SUV.