--BY SARTHAK RAJ BARAL
The Willys MB, attributed to as the ‘Jeep’ was developed during the Second World War and it grew into the dominant transport vehicle of the United States Military. It was the world’s first mass-produced four-wheel-drive (4WD) car and was the foundation upon which all future Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) were built.
In the 75 years since, the brand and its products have grown exponentially and Jeep holds a substantial stake in the SUV market across diverse countries in the world. Falling under the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) umbrella, Jeep has an illustrious assembly of 4WD cars, comprising the Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee and the Compass. Having penetrated the Indian market in 2016 with the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, the iconic brand enters the Nepali market for the first time with the all-new Compass, a compact SUV, which in many facets, is a miniaturised version of the Grand Cherokee. Jeep claims the Compass comes endowed with 50+ safety and security features, 30+ premium features and 20+ pioneering technologies. Although this is Jeep’s formal introduction to Nepal, the country and its inhabitants already have a pre-existing relationship with the brand. Many in the country fondly refer to four-wheelers, notably those resembling the Willys MB build, as ‘Jeep’.
The Jeep Compass arrives in three variants, Sport, Longitude and the top end variant, Latitude. Our review model was the top of the line 4x4 Latitude. It’s iconic, it’s premium, and it has tremendous off-road capabilities but does it warrant the Rs 96, 50,000 that potential customers have to shell out to acquire it? Let’s dive in.
Design and Exterior
The Compass is a winner from an aesthetics standpoint; the svelte, aerodynamic design combined with Jeep’s signature seven-slot grille affords the Compass an air of authority and luxury. The design language here is rather comparable to that of the Grand Cherokee, which is more a compliment than a criticism. Much like its larger relative, the Compass has great build quality, tempting body lines and features exquisite detailing. The chrome highlights that drape around the body are especially admirable.
Other features include body colour door mirrors and handles, daytime running lamps, LED tail lamps, roof rails and a rear spoiler. All this, mounted on 17-inch alloy wheels. Suffice it to say, the compass has an unmistakably premium presence and is certain to draw plenty of eyeballs. The SUV comes in six colour options – Hydro Blue, Exotica Red, Brilliant Black, Vocal White, Minimal Grey and Magnesio Grey. While all the options present a generous degree of allure and choice of colour is a matter of preference, if you crave to make a statement, you can’t go wrong with the Exotica Red, it looks ravishing in person.
Jeep has adorned the interior with soft-touch materials and continues to expand upon the premium theme established by the exterior design. McKinley leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheels, a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen display equipped with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, six speakers and a customisable 3.5-inch driver information display are some key features packed into the luxurious interior. The fit and finish inside the cabin are of the top drawer. The cabin space is spacious and there is a good deal of legroom on offer for passengers both front and back.
Engine, Performance and Safety
In non-technical language, the Compass is plenty powerful and more than capable of chewing through Kathmandu’s traffic. Consumers that are after peak performance and want to get the most out of their car in terms of power and an engaging driving experience should have their sights set on the petrol variant. It has the power to spare and will offer speed demons with plenty of tools to play with.
The engine is peppy and highly responsive and ensures the drive is exciting. For the more sedate and mileage-concerned section, the diesel variant should be the automatic pick. The diesel variant is no slouch in terms of power and overtaking in-city traffic will rarely be a problem. The drive quality is impeccable on both variants. The suspension on the compass is phenomenal. It dismisses potholes and speed bumps with disdain and gives the driver and passengers a sense of safety and security. The noise levels inside the cabin are fairly well maintained. Staying true to its brand, the Compass is an off-road beast. Jeep’s ‘active drive’ 4x4 system coupled with ‘selec-train,’ a system that allows you the option of choosing between Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud, ensures you can take the Compass out into the wild, with no reservations. The safety features as well are well thought out. Electronic stability control, hill start assist, dual airbags, electronic roll mitigation and Anti-lock brake system (ABS) are some key safety features.
Pricing and Conclusion
Considering the fact the Compass models that arrive in Nepal are manufactured in FCA’s Ranjangaon facility in India, the SUV is priced competitively in Nepal.
The Compass is a feature packed, premium and powerful offering from an iconic car manufacturer. Considering the price of its competitors, for anyone in the market for a compact SUV, the Compass deserves serious consideration.