The Jeep Compass captured the imagination of many Indians when launched. This is an SUV which looks like it means business and comes at a relatively affordable price tag amongst the premium SUVs. Carrying a legendary brand value, the Compass has been selling well since launch. So much that FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) have been working double shifts to meet the demand and are gearing up to activate the third shift at their plant in Ranjangaon, Pune. The Jeep Compass was initially launched with a diesel engine only. Recently, the deliveries of the petrol version have commenced. We review the automatic version, which comes only with the petrol engine, unfortunately. How good is this version? Is it worth buying? Read further to know more about it.
The Jeep Compass automatic petrol looks identical to its diesel version. It comes in the top-end Limited variant, with an ‘Option’ sub-variant as well. The features etc. also are same as the diesel. However, the petrol version gets a 5-spoke alloy wheel, that comes in the Longitude (mid variant) of the diesel. Somehow, Jeep has chosen to offer this alloy wheel design in the Limited variant in the petrol version and we do not know why. This is the only visible difference, externally. The petrol automatic gets no badging which would introduce itself to an onlooker.
The build quality of the Compass is its high point, along with its looks. The way the doors shut and the quality feel you get once you step inside, is excellent. In fact, the Compass sold in India is same as the one exported, except for the bonnet, which is made of aluminium in the export versions.
The interiors are simple, sans any drama and feel solid. The 7-inch touchscreen system gets Android Auto and Apple Car Play, alongwith other stuff like bluetooth, voice assisted controls and a reverse camera. The seats are comfortable and come in leather with Jeep branding on the front seats. The steering wheel is chunky and leather wrapped too. The instrument cluster is also a pleasing one to look at. The only complain is the light interiors which get soiled easily.
So now, without wasting much time, lets get on to the main part, which is the way it drives.
The Jeep Compass automatic comes with a 1.4-litre MultiAir engine that produces 162bhp of power at 5,500rpm and a torque of 250Nm at 2,500 to 4,000 rpm. This unit is the same as the one on the Abarth Punto but gets a MultiAir treatment and higher power. Now, if you think that like the diesel, this will also deliver a punchy performance when floored, then you might be dissapointed, because despite the difference of only 10bhp viz-a-viz the diesel, this engine delivers its power in a much more linear fashion.
Being a turbo petrol there is a noticeable lag initially, below 2,000rpm. Once you have crossed that, the power build-up is brisk, but does not feel as powerful as the diesel. The engine also is a bit noisy when pushed hard. But none to disturb you. In fact, the note is quite sporty.
The 7-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) unit is a smooth performer. The gearshifts are seamless and one can cruise easily at about 100 km/h, while the engine spins below 2,000 rpm.
There are no paddle shifters here, so in manual mode, you will have to stick to the stick!
0-100km/h comes up in around 10.2 seconds. Which is not slow by any standards for this SUV. Its just that its lacks that punch and the ‘pushed back’ feel you experience in the diesel.
Ride and Handling
The Compass had impressed us with its ride and handling package earlier. It’s no different in this one too. Fiat cars have always excelled in this department and the Jeep Compass bears the same DNA. The vehicle remains planted at high speeds and sudden direction changes do not affect its composure. The ride quality is right up there too. It just glides over undulations and even large potholes are gobbled up brilliantly.
Another thing you notice is the top notch NVH package. The cabin is silent and that is always the hallmark of a premium vehicle. This goes a long way in making the Compass feel rich.
What does it lack?
The Compass, though a promising SUV, does miss out on a few features that this segment desires. At INR 23 lakhs (on-road), the Compass automatic petrol misses out on cruise control. Then some bits like auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, autochromic mirror and a sunroof, which many customers desire (I’m not a fan of it, though). Another thing is that neither is it as fun to drive as the diesel, nor does it have the fuel efficiency, which is around 8-9 km/l in the city and 13 km/l on the highway.
Should you buy it?
The only reason to buy this vehicle is if you are in love with the Compass and you are hell-bent on having an automatic. The petrol version is the only option for an automatic, as of now.
A diesel automatic with a 9-speed transmission is being manufactured in India, but is only exported. That powertrain meets Euro VI norms as well. The cost factor is keeping it away from an India launch.
So while the petrol misses out on the enthusiastic driving experience and fuel efficiency, it makes up, obviously, for more driving comfort.
Buy it only if you like a relaxed drive, most of the times. You will not be disappointed then. Else, go for the diesel to extract the best out of the Jeep Compass.