A trip to interiors of Rajasthan in the scorching heat of April might not have been the best time for this road trip but in the given work life its not always easy to match up the schedule with one of your old friends for a short road trip. In this case, we decided to head to interiors of Rajasthan as I had heard about my great grandfathers having stayed in Barmer for a short duration in their lifetime. It was just the curiosity to see that unexplored part of Rajasthan and spend time with my one of those childhood buddies who has practically been there in your life throughout while growing up. Leading the way for us was the Jeep Compass SUV as Rajasthan is famous for throwing up beautiful views and treacherous roads at the same time.
Jeep Compass created a big buzz well before its launch and continues to be a head-turning sight on roads. Compass is trending and SUVs are always a safer bet for places you have never visited before. Not that I wasn’t familiar with this highway at all, I have travelled on Delhi-Jodhpur highway several times before but never was diverted inside any of the cities or towns that went by. We started quite early in the morning and juggling through the regular Delhi highway traffic on NH8 in about 3 hours we passed through the Jaipur bypass.
Interestingly for me, the talks with my buddy always somehow either started with or ended with the Jeep Compass. It was his curiosity about the brand that just helped to understand that how Jeep and FCA India has already managed to promote the vehicle to the right target audience.
Now globally, this is the second generation of Jeep Compass and is built on the Fiat’s new Small Wide 4x4 monocoque platform that currently brings back fortunes for Fiat Chrysler India. Jeep Compass has been a runaway success for the company and the number of the Compass’ we see in various cities is encouraging enough for the company to bring in more products. Jeep Compass wears an aggressive angry face and looks intimidating but is surely not a very large SUV. The SUV is longer than Hyundai Creta and shorter than Hyundai Tucson in size and there is a huge potential for growth in that segment and price point.
Jeep Compass is certainly now well recognised and across fuel stations and mid-breaks during our journey we were asked about the SUV, its performance and the local crowd of Rajasthan surely appreciated its looks and design. The brand Jeep among the locals wasn’t new, Jeep meant an off-roader and seeing the Compass the questions were more matured than just ‘kitna deti hai’ or ‘kitne ki hai.’ (What is the car's mileage and how much does it cost).
I remember the one of the sarpanch of Pali telling me “Yeh hoti hai asli maardo ki gaadi.” (This is a real man’s car). The strong resemblance to Jeep Grand Cherokee adds to the overall appeal of the car. The junior Cherokee gets a distinctive D-pillar and rear design that separates it from the Jeep’s family design. The extra chrome on the rear of the SUV could have been avoided but Indians do love chrome, don’t we?
The sides of Jeep Compass get a plastic cladding at the bottom. It is further carried towards the rear of the SUV. The cladding helps in giving the SUV an off-roader look and makes the cleaning of the SUV simpler. Being a rough surface dust and mud does not easily stick on to the plastic and simple wipe with a wet cloth does the job. However, the rear bumper skips on the silver finished skid plate that we see on the front bumper.
The interiors of Jeep Compass is simple yet appealing. Nice black and beige colour scheme used with centre console finished in piano-black. The A/C control button switches are finished in plastic and are a bit placed on the lower side so the driver really needs to see down to ensure correct buttons are pressed. The infotainment system adds to the overall appeal of the dashboard. However, the response of the touchscreen infotainment could have had been better. It does support Apple Car Play and Google Android Auto. Quality of plastic used inside is great the light coloured seats on the Compass make the cabin look big and spacious. The digital instrument cluster is very clearly visible even in bring sunshine with very little glare (or my sunglasses were really good!)
The boot is big enough for two big suitcases and a small briefcase and the second-row seats can always be folded for more space. The temperature outside went up till almost 46-degree but the automatic climate control was very effective, adding further to our comfort.
The quality of highways in Rajasthan has further improved however the occasional bumps on the road did wake my friend up from his nap (he’s not really a morning person). Compass' suspension is a bit stiff but works for rough use. The seats, however, got me a bit uncomfortable after about 4-5 hours into our journey promoting me to take more breaks (and stretches too). Rear seats of Jeep Compass have rear climate control with A/C vents and are decent for long durations.
We crossed Pali and proceeded towards the interiors of Rajasthan and were surprised to see the quality of roads being better than what we see in metro cities. This was the perfect place to test the high-speed capabilities of the Compass.
The 2.0L 4-cylinder engine is powerful making about 171 bhp and 350 Nm of torque and can run like a horse. Its one of the best engines from the Fiat’s Multijet family and certainly the smoothest. The engine met the demand as and when required and was complimented by the responsive gearbox.
The aluminium finished gear knob fits perfectly to the palm and the hands automatically would want to keep resting your hand on the gear stick. There is a slight lag very early but when the turbo kicks in, the Compass feels charged. The Jeep Compass returned a mileage of about 14 kmpl on this trip, which is quite nice for its size and performance.
We did go through some rough patches, bad roads and places with no roads at all but did not really off-road with the Jeep Compass. I did manage to spend a day where my ancestors stayed for a while. There are very few old buildings, gates and forts from late 18th century remaining there. The real take away from this journey and the town is how we take small towns for granted. The pace at which rural India is developing is a delight to see and is very evident. India's next big growth is going to be tapped from such developing towns growing into cities. Higher levels of localisation have helped the company with aggressive pricing of Jeep Compass but I personally think the top-variants are expensive by about Rs 50,000-80,000.
Jeep Compass not only proved to be a reliable partner in our small journey but also emphasised that a good product will always be appreciated even if it's coming from a new brand like Jeep. Fiat Chrysler’s sales in India is at an all-time high, the success of Jeep Compass will certainly lead to many more products from Jeep in India in the near future.