New Compass critical

for Jeep

Jeep Compass, 2018, side
Jeep Compass, 2018, front
Jeep Compass, 2018, rear
Jeep Compass, 2018, interior
Jeep Compass, 2018, rear seats
Jeep Compass, 2018, boot
Jeep Compass, 2018, MultiJet engine

JEEP is one of the instantly recognisable brands around the world, so any new model deserves serious consideration.

Heritage can still mean a lot to a buyer even if some car-makers have sent theirs to the crusher, but not Jeep.

It has effectively "recycled" its history and while the launch of the new Compass did not include the traditional off-road test so familiar with Jeeps of old it held the tantalising promise of a harder-edged Trailhawk version next summer.

The new Compass is the first Jeep to be made in the Fiat Chrysler Automobile factory in Ranjangaon, Pune, India, where they also assemble Fiat models including the 500X from which the Compass takes its platform.

Prices rise from under £23,000 to almost £35,600 for the four specification levels with the first arriving in February.

At the launch FCA UK managing director Ashley Andrew said: "The Compass represents everything that is Jeep with fantastic on and off-road performance, 70 active and passive safety features and includes the latest connectivity technology.

"Jeep with its 76 year history is now a global brand and our vehicles are built in six countries around the world, the latest being India where the Compass is being built."

He added: "The new vehicle represents a key addition to the Jeep line-up, it is a critical vehicle for us allowing the brand to tackle the important and growing compact SUV segment that is expected to grow by almost 20 percent to 7.5 million in 2020.

"In Europe alone, this segment amounts to more than 1.6 million and is expected to achieve more than two million units by 2020".

Jeep expects the best seller will be the 2WD 1.4 MultiAir Longitude petrol manual version taking 28 per cent of Compass sales while the 2WD and 4WD 1.4 models will account for almost half of the business, said Rob Lake, Jeep's UK product manager.

The majority of Jeep buyers are private owners and Jeep is keen to expand on its network of about 70 dealers to better serve potential owners who value its history and modern individuality.

The new Jeep Compass is a more capable soft-road than hard-edged off-roader for most of the range but it tackles the modern rough and tumble of family life with a roomy interior and good-sized boot.

The high riding position will be loved by many because it gives a better view of the road and with a low waistline and deep windows you can see out very well. The access is good throughout, the seats big and comfortable with reasonable adjustment room infront aided by a reach and rake moveable steering wheel.

There's good instruments layout dominated by a big central infotainment screen, although the central console looks a bit cluttered, but the major controls are all sensibly placed and worked well.

Our drive of the diesel engines definitely favoured the 2.0-litre 140hp model for better pickup in mid and high rev-range and it had a great six speed manual transmission which meant it ran to 40.7mpg.

It was also the best riding of the three versions we tried as well as the most economical.

The 120hp 1.6 MultiJet diesel in 2WD with six speed manual gearbox seemed hard work by comparison and even sluggish, and showed 35.9mpg, but with a nine-speed auto box on the 170hp 1.4 MultiAir petrol there was no shortage of ratios for a brisk cross-country canter over the South Downs.

Emissions range from 117g/km for the 1.6-litre diesel to 160g/km for the 1.4 petrol. The 2.0-litre diesel is rated at 138g/km.

That equates to an official fuel return of 41 to the gallon for the petrol engine with the two diesels rated at 64 and 54.2mpg.

I would have liked a quicker throttle response in the lower range of the automatic transmission on the petrol Compass but you could easily switch to manual sport mode and improve responses and it returned an indicated 31.6mpg.

The steering was sensibly weighted, the brakes good, and it turned and gripped very well whether front or all wheel drive.

The optional 19-inch wheels and tyres made the ride stiff but not so much in the 2.0 140hp version.

The original Compass sold in Britain from 2007 until 2015 and it slots between the Renegade and Cherokee models in the current Jeep range.

The new Compass is now classified as a compact SUV and as such it faces competition from the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and a host of others including the new Jaguar E-Pace as well as the Fiat 500X on which the Jeep is based.

Compared to these however, the Compass noses ahead with its good all-round ability and distinctive looks that include a modern take on Jeep's famous seven-bar grille. In this day and age having a heritage to shout about can make all the difference and that of Jeep is a legend.

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