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Jeep Compass: Iconic brand’s made-in-India gamble

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-04-2017 Akbar Merchant

Jeep Compass is a sub-Rs20 lakh premium SUV that will be launched in India in August. It’s the Jeep brand’s first locally assembled model and will be produced at Fiat’s Ranjangaon facility in Maharashtra. India will also be the Compass’ mother plant for markets such as the UK, Japan and Australia.

The Compass looks like a shrunken Grand Cherokee. It’s got the typical Jeep styling cues, like the seven-slat grille up front and squared-out wheel arches. But it also comes with modern-day bits like the sleek LED lamps all around (Jeep says the design for the headlights is inspired from the eyes of the Iron Man suit) and a slick roofline, which makes it look quite compact. Furthermore, technology like plasma-cutting has been used for the body panels, which result in really fine and flush shut lines and very little panel gaps.

The Compass gets a clearly defined centre console, and the large multifunction steering is shared with costlier Jeep SUVs. The centre console also  houses a 7-inch touchscreen, and the four-wheel-drive controls.

A unique feature in the top-end variants is the Selec-Terrain dial feature to change the driving mode, which allows you to prep this SUV to handle challenging terrain like mud, rocks or snow.

What the Compass has in abundance is seat comfort. Rear-seat passengers also have it good. Entry is quite effortless, the seat is placed at the perfect height, and back support is good. Headroom, though, could be a bit tight at the back for taller passengers.

The Compass will be sold in India with two engine options. One of these is a 2-litre MultiJet diesel that’s good for 170hp and 350Nm of torque. This engine will be offered only with a six-speed manual gearbox. The second engine is the 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine. This motor churns out around 160hp and can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The Compass could outclass rivals like the Hyundai Tucson in terms of off-road capability. Top-of-the-line versions will have a dedicated four-wheel-drive system and a differential locking system.

Three variants will be offered in India—Sport, Latitude and Limited. The Uconnect infotainment system will be loaded with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms. It will be equipped with as many as six airbags, plus the SUV will get safety features like a reverse camera with parking sensors, an anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability control (ESP), electronic roll-over mitigation and hill-start assist.

Unlike the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee, which are grossly overpriced, Jeep seems to have got a few things right with the Compass. This premium SUV seems about the perfect size for urban environments, and will be priced at an estimated Rs18-25 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

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