Jeep Compass Sport Plus: Practicality above everything elseThe car’s features, combined with quality material and a stellar design, gives it a premium and upmarket feel.
It all started during World War II when the US and its allies used the old Willys Jeeps as their primary lightweight transport vehicle. The Willys MB then made a name for itself as a light off-road capable military utility vehicle. The American vehicle was popularised to such an extent that we still call SUVs as jeeps. But there has to be a difference between an SUV and a jeep, right? The easy answer is that an SUV is not a Jeep neither is a Jeep an SUV. Why? You might ask.
An actual advertisement campaign by the American automotive company Jeep in 2008 read, “They invented SUV because they couldn’t call them Jeep”. We all know SUVs are sports utility vehicles but what is a ‘jeep’? I surfed through the internet and came to a conclusion that ‘jeep’ is synonymous to a durable and rugged 4x4 whereas neither all SUVs are 4x4 nor all of them have decent off-road drivability.
So that must mean that all vehicles produced by the American automotive giant are capable rugged off-roaders, right? I too had this question, so with high expectations I set out to find the answer with the entry level Jeep for the Nepali market, the Compass Sports Plus.
The Compass Sport is definitely eye catching. Like all Jeeps, it too sports the miniature version of the iconic seven slot grille with the logo sitting on top at the centre. On either side of the grille are LED DRLs complimented with projector units. The front of the car looks menacing and will definitely turn heads with its bold looks and mighty street presence.
As busy as the front of the vehicle is aesthetically, there isn’t much to look at from the sides. The car follows the signature Jeep design cues with its muscular and boxy shape coupled with boxed wheel arches. The base variant of the Compass comes with good looking 16-inch alloy wheels with a five spoke rim.
As with the sides, there’s nothing fancy on the back with standard tail lights integrated with indicators and the reflectors sit beautifully coddled in the bumper.
The menacing look and muscular design of the outside is contrasted with a very comfortable, welcoming, and convenient interior. The silver and black contrasting used inside is pleasing to the eye and the quality of materials used is top-notch. The interior is loaded with features for convenience, like a full-length floor console with sliding armrest, dual zone automatic climate control, and armrest and cupholders for the rear passengers as well. Adding to the list, the steering column as well as the seats are height adjustable for the driver’s comfort and a modern Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) replaces the conventional handbrake. Though the Compass Sport Plus misses out on keyless entry and leather upholstery, it still looks and feels premium.
The Compass also gets a 3.5-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity which felt quite behind the times. Though the interface is intuitive, the hard to operate touch-screen leaves the infotainment system with a lot more to desire. But fret not, because you’ll hardly ever use the touch screen while on the go, as the vehicle is loaded with steering mounted buttons, along with two buttons at the back of the steering wheel to change between radio frequencies and songs.
All in all, the features combined with quality materials and stellar design gives the vehicle a very premium and upmarket feel.
The Jeep Compass Sports Plus feeds on petrol and is driven by a 4-cylinder 1.4-litre Turbo Multiair engine producing 160 BHP at 3750 RPM and 250 Nm of peak torque at 1750 RPM mated with a six speed gearbox.
On the petrol variant I tested, the power delivery is linear and the gear shifts quite well but I was left yearning for more torque while off the road. Though the Compass Sports Plus propelled through the trails and cleared obstacles beautifully, the vehicle lacked a sense of urgency and excitement that I expected from a pedigree Compass.
However, it’s a different ball game on the tarmac. The car handles very well for its size with precise power assisted steering and a light clutch making it a perfect city as well as highway commuter. Talking about the mileage, the company claims a ARAI mileage of 17.1 kmpl which further solidifies its position as a great commuter. But, with a width of 1818 mm and a length of 4395 mm, the Compass Sports Plus does feel a bit bulky if you’re driving on narrow roads.
A car that drives great is judged by its ability to stop. The Compass Sports Plus is loaded with disc brakes at the front as well as the rear. The brakes provide great feedback and stopping fast is not a problem at all.
On the safety front, Jeep has cut no corners and provided the Sports Plus with the same safety features available on the higher end Longitude. It comes standard with EPC, ABS, Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Start Assist, and dual airbags. The vehicle earned a safety rating of four-stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of USA (NHTSA).
The Compass Sport Plus sports a McPherson Strut with Lower Control Arm Disc at the front and Multi Link Suspension with Strut Assembly at the rear. The suspension setup on the firmer side which makes hitting the twisties at high speeds a great fun. Though the suspension is on the firmer side, the Compass Sports Plus comfortably glides through small potholes and anomalies of the road. It’s when you truly veer off the road, you start feeling the firmer suspension setup.
On the comfort side of things, the Jeep Compass Sport Plus doesn’t disappoint. The seats are clad in high quality fabric and provide ample cushioning and lumbar support, the automatic climate control works like a charm, and the ride quality is stellar while on tarmac.
I have no doubt that the Jeep Compass Sport Plus is an excellent and capable commuter, but a question remains. Should we tag it an SUV or a ‘jeep’. With a two-wheel-drive drivetrain and limited off-roading capabilities, I feel that the Compass tips the scale towards the SUV side rather than a true ‘jeep’ and that’s perfectly fine.
But with the launch of the Sports Plus, Jeep has prioritised practicality above everything else. One doesn’t need a rugged 4x4 to commute to work, or go on a road trip with friends and family, what one needs is a practical and comfortable car and that is exactly what Jeep has been offering with the Compass Sports Plus.