The American marquee that's synonymous with pretty much all hardcore off-roaders across the world has showcased its first-ever made-in-India SUV, the Compass. Positioned as a compact SUV, the Compass will be manufactured at Fiat's Ranjangaon facility near Pune, making India the first and only country in the world to manufacture the right hand drive version of the Compass. The SUV will be exported to right hand drive markets like Australia, Japan and the UK from India.
Of the 17 powertrains options on offer internationally in the Compass, several will be manufactured here though most will be for export only. The Indian market will get Fiat's 1.4-litre Multiair turbocharged petrol engine and a 2.0-litre diesel engine, and the latter will be manufactured locally as well.
Exact power and torque figures haven't been revealed though we do know that the petrol will produce in excess of 160PS of power along with 250Nm of torque.
The diesel will offer over 170PS and 350Nm of peak torque. Both powertrains will come with the option of either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. Primarily a front wheel drive, the Compass will be offered with the option of a four wheel drive version for the manual version only in India. A 9-speed dual clutch automatic, already on offer in markets abroad, is also under consideration for launch at a later stage.
The Compass looks extremely impressive, and is sure to appeal to luxury SUV buyers too, with its immense attention to detail. 18 percent of its body parts are hot stamped for extra rigidity and lightness while laser-welded doors, a first for any automobile manufactured in India lend it a classier feel.
The overall design is inspired by the famous SR-71 combat aircrafts, and the tail light design draws inspiration from the Ironman. We haven't been allowed to take a look at the interiors of the Compass though clearly the design focus is on a youthful, athletic appearance going by the design sketches. We do know that the rear seat will get a 60:40 split, to maximise boot space. Jeep was also keen on telling us interior space has been maximised and the Compass should be one of the roomiest SUVs in its class.
The Compass will boast over 50 active and passive safety features and stability control, disc brakes all round, airbags and hill start assist will be standard. The 4WD variants will get a total of six airbags. Other features include cornering lamps and an anti-fog windshield. The robust 4WD system comes with terrain management to switch between Auto, Mud, Snow and Sand. In the Auto mode, it can intelligently disengage the rear axle to improve efficiency.
Based on the terrain, the system can go back to 4WD mode on the fly. The independent rear suspension with 200mm of articulation on the Compass is going to be a boon when traversing off-road, but its 178mm of ground clearance clearly hints at a road bias for the SUV, especially considering that most SUVs in India are seen performing duty on tarmac rather than off it. To offer optimum comfort to occupants, the Compass uses MacPherson suspension at the front, to also aid Handling, along with independent rear suspension which will also enhance its cornering abilities. With an overall height of 1667mm the Compass isn't too tall and should be an able handler, just like most modern, road biased SUVs.
When launched, the Compass will take on the likes of Hyundai's Tucson and Honda's CR-V, though Jeep seems confident that the Compass will be the most capable compact SUV. There is no word on the variants or pricing yet, but we expect Jeep India to price the Compass between 25-30 lakh rupees with its equipment levels, and is expected to also take on C-segment sedans in its price bracket.
The SUV has been tested for over 1.8 million kilometres as far as accelerated tests go, to test the powertrain, apart from 25.7 million kilometres of testing for on and off-road abilities. The Compass will enter serial production in June and we expect it to be launched sometime in July this year.
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