New Compass points

to success

Jeep Compass, action front
Jeep Compass, static scene
Jeep Compass, action front 4
Jeep Compass, action sand
Jeep Compass, front seat
Jeep Compass, dashboard
Jeep Compass, interior
Jeep Compass, action rear
Jeep Compass, action front 2
Jeep Compass, action front 3
Jeep Compass, dash detail
Jeep Compass, action duo
Jeep Compass, action duo rear
Jeep Compass, static duo
Jeep Compass, action duo 2

YOU might be reading these words to find out important details about an upcoming Jeep aimed at the rugged heart of the outdoor lifestyle-chasing adventurer dreaming of an exciting weekend away from the office.

So sorry, in advance, you will have to wait several months for all the facts. Certainly for those that relate to important issues like price, engines and even colour choices.

The Compass, taking on rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, VW Tiguan and Ford Kuga is being tried here on what the motor industry calls a long lead time.

The idea might be, you could surmise, to make you fancy a Compass so badly you'll resist the pull of a Nissan or VW or Ford and let the anticipation build for the arrival of your new Jeep in January.

Or perhaps it's because the Jeep, built in India but carrying deeply American roots by design and sanctioned by a company headquartered in Turin, is such a global car that we might as well have a go as soon as they're ready to sell one somewhere.

Let's look at the price for starters. You wouldn't buy one if it cost absurdly more than a Tiguan, so look to that car for a likely bottom line. In Italy the Compass costs from around £22,000 to £35,000. Come early autumn, we'll know for sure.

The Compass sits in the Jeep range above the smaller, funkier looking Renegade - by far the biggest seller for Jeep in the U.K. - and the larger and more serious big brother that is Cherokee.

Engines are another area for a sensible wager; Jeep is bound to pull in powerplants from existing models with a diesel emphasis for the UK. So expect diesels with 1.6 and 2.0 litres capacity and a 1.4 litre petrol, with diesel much the more popular choice of fuel.

There will a choice of driving only the front wheels, fine for those not intent on off-roading. Customers of the smaller Jeep Renegade mostly take the cheaper 2WD route and it's likely to be the same here, with perhaps a slight tilt to AWD.

Paint colour choice? No idea really, but expect everything from bold and showy to more heather and grouse moor greens and browns.

Also, expect a typical Jeep quartet of trim levels, Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk, with the latter enjoying a revised off-road system including a 'rock' setting which dealt slowly and safely with some demanding trails on the press launch deep in a Portuguese forest.

Every Compass is clearly aiming for a high ranking safety score and will come with lane departure warning (flashing orange discreetly in the door mirrors if there's a car overtaking in your blind spot) and forward collision warning that brakes if you're not concentrating on that suddenly halted vehicle ahead.

Trying the top rated 2.0 diesel in its most expensive form on Portuguese roads infested with Lycra clad cyclists, the Compass impressed with a nicely muffled thrum and a ride that featherbedded the smooth bits and felt only mildly ruffled when the surface broke up. It was much the same on some off-road sections with boulders the size of shoe boxes littering the trail.

The cabin is comfortably big enough for a quartet of bulky men and there's room for a third in the middle at the back if you are all good friends. The boot is capacious too and hides an emergency spare wheel and tyre (not an aerosol of potentially useless sealant) that might prove a blessing if say hello to a tyre shredding rock.

With 168bhp available from its 2.0 litre turbo'ed diesel the car will touch 122mph and reach 62mph in 9.5 seconds - so no slouch. It also has an official 49.4mpg in this form and puts out 148g/km of CO2.

There is so much electric adjustability in the driver's seat in a top spec Compass you would need to be an extraordinary shape not to find something approaching an ideal driving position. Sitting high in SUV fashion is as relaxing as ever and a positive benefit when you need to spot a possible car-halting boulder ahead.

Fit and finish are banging on the door of traditionally better built European competition, to the extent you would scarcely guess this was an American designed car built in India. All the better for a bit of visual restraint too, letting the seven slot radiator grille announce this is a Jeep - and proud of it - from 100 paces.

Not many years ago Jeep was badly in need of a model line people might like to buy. The Renegade started a renaissance for the company's bottom line. The Compass looks set to intensify the pace.

If you buy in to the honest American charm of one of the world's most iconic brand names, you have until January to save the deposit.

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