2020 Jeep Compass diesel automatic review, test drive
What is it?
With the off-road oriented Jeep Compass Trailhawk pairing a diesel engine and an automatic transmission, it was only a matter of time before this much-wanted engine-gearbox combo was rolled out on to the more everyday versions of the Compass. And that is the very specification on the Compass you see here. Yes, it doesn’t look any different to the Compass we’ve had since 2017 but the familiar looks hide a BS6-ready engine and a 9-speed automatic gearbox. The absence of a low-range transfer case means that this version will be more affordable (and also 30kg lighter) than the Trailhawk, with which it shares its powertrain.
BS6-ready 4×2 manual and auto, and 4×4 manual versions will join the line-up in due time but, for now, our focus is on the new 4×4 auto, which features Jeep’s Selec-Terrain Active Drive all-wheel drive system.
What’s it like on the inside?
Jeep hasn’t made any changes to the Compass’ interior. To give a quick recap, it’s a smartly turned-out space that makes use of a generous use of soft-touch materials. There’s reasonable space for four adults and seat comfort is good too.
Jeep will launch the Compass diesel-auto in two variants. The lower-spec Longitude trim gets four airbags, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, a reverse camera, keyless entry and go, auto start/stop and cruise control. The Limited Plus variant adds a panoramic sunroof, a powered driver’s seat with memory, leather seats, and auto headlights and wipers. Six airbags and a larger, 8.4-inch touchscreen are also exclusive to the Limited Plus.
What’s it like to drive?
Anyone familiar with the older BS4-spec Compass diesel will immediately note a major improvement in refinement on the BS6-spec Compass. You’ll hear a whole lot less of the engine, and interestingly, idle is quieter than what you get on the Trailhawk too. Jeep has optimised the 173hp/350Nm, 2.0-litre Multijet II diesel engine’s fuel mapping and calibration for this application, taking typical urban driving into consideration. The result is more pep at low speeds and readier responses at part throttle. The Compass auto is also quicker than the Trailhawk in kickdown acceleration with a 20-80kph time of 6.66sec (vs 7.15sec) and 40-100kph time of 8.05sec (vs 10.34sec). And for the record, its 11.4sec 0-100kph time also betters the Trailhawk’s 12.49sec run.
However, as on the Trailhawk, what’s missed here is the strong mid-range surge that gave the older BS4-spec engine so much character. The BS6 engine delivers its power in a linear and measured (if also slightly unexciting) manner. The 9-speed torque converter automatic gearbox complements the engine’s characteristics well with smooth and timely shifts but, again, it’s not snappy like, say, a dual-clutch can be. You can liven things up with manual shifts via the gear lever but there are no paddleshifters.
Of the other things, the Compass continues to impress for its well-sorted high-speed manners. It feels planted at triple-digit speeds, the suspension isn’t perturbed by large patches of broken road taken at speed and even handling is tidy for an SUV. True to Jeep DNA, the Compass 4×4 is also adept off-road with more ability than most owners will exploit. Much of the original Compass’ firm low-speed ride quality has also been addressed; but this top-spec Limited Plus version’s 225/55 R18 tyres can’t absorb the bumps as effectively as the Trailhawk’s chunkier 225/60 R17 tyres.
Should I buy one?
The Jeep Compass has long been one of our favourites and it’s become an even easier SUV to recommend with the arrival of this new diesel-automatic version. Sure, the diesel engine has lost some zing in the transition to BS6-spec but you’ll still like the MultiJet II engine for its easy access to power and newfound refinement. The smooth-shifting automatic transmission, on the other hand, adds in a new level of convenience. Factor in the strong build, the confident driving manners and even off-road ability – what you get is a really well-rounded package.
Jeep hasn’t revealed prices of their new variant as yet but we expect the Compass diesel-auto Limited Plus to undercut the Trailhawk by about Rs 2 lakh, bringing pricing in the region of Rs 24 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom). While not cheap, the Compass diesel-auto sure is the pick of the range.
Rs 17.93 lakh * on road price (New Delhi)
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