The Jeep we’d all been waiting for came, saw and has seemingly conquered. Time to see if the Compass is as good as it’s made out to be.
This is the section of the Autocar road test that the Compass absolutely nails. We were blown away by the Compass’ ride quality when we drove the car for the first time around in Ranjangaon a few months ago. Recent sorties on the familiar roads of our test route in and around Mumbai have just cemented the initial impression that this is one of the best riding
cars (not just SUVs) in India today. There is a hint of firmness at all times, so sharper surface irregularities like expansion joints do filter through, but the way the suspension dismisses potholes of all sizes is just incredible. The Compass remains unfazed by bumps even taken at speed, and this just takes the feeling of security to the next level. High-speed stability in general is top-notch, with controlled movements on long wave undulations.
And did we mention the Compass is somewhat of a driver’s car too? The steering, for one, is direct, well-weighted (the petrol’s is lighter but just as precise) and rich in feel. The Compass is happy to change direction and though it rolls, handling feels far from sloppy or top-heavy. The tyres will squeal in protest and the Compass will venture into understeer should you test its limits in the bends, but for a regular jaunt up to a hill station, it makes for a rewarding drive. That said, the front-wheel-drive petrol Compass is prone to torque steer under hard acceleration so you have to keep a firm hand on the wheel. In panic-braking scenarios, the Compass’ rear end tends to feel a bit light too. Sure, braking force is strong and the rear end won’t step out of line but you don’t get the same sure-footed feel as you would in a premium European SUV either. We also noted a fair bit of tyre noise on the concrete surface of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Enough about the Compass in civilisation. How is it in the wild? Suffice to say, the 4x4 Compass does justice to the Jeep badge. This is no Wrangler but you’ll be surprised how far off-road the Compass will take you. The all-wheel-drive system reads conditions well to find grip, and the long-travel suspension ensures maximum contact between the tyres and ground. Wading depth is a useful 330mm and there’s ample clearance for most obstacles. Don’t read too much into the mediocre 17-degree approach angle, it’s counted from the low-slung, but flexible front lip. You do miss hill descent control and once again, the snappy clutch is bothersome in precarious low-speed off-roading.