Almost everyone knows the Jeep name but low UK sales would suggest different, but now Jeep is part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group their models are more in tune with European tastes.

The all new Jeep Compass

The all new Jeep Compass

The latest Jeep Compass is based on the same platform used for the Fiat 500X, and clearly intends to attract buyers away from a growing raft of compact SUV rivals, including the Nissan Qashqai, the Seat Ateca, as well as Volkswagen’s Tiguan.

The Compass sits between Jeeps entry level Renegade the futuristically styled Cherokee. Keeping true to the Jeep family resemblance inside and out.

I had the chance to drive them when Jeep invited me over to test the European-spec version of the car in Lisbon Portugal. The UK has to wait until early next year, and I can say first impressions of the brand’s new family car are pretty good,

Jeep Compass heads off road
Jeep Compass heads off road

With a wide choice of engines in the range, from a 1.4-litre petrol with 138bhp, to 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels. The top 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel is noisy and its nine-speed automatic gearbox holds on to the low gears a touch too long for my liking, on the positive side the lower-powered engine, (138bhp) version with a manual gearbox, is the best one to go for particularly on UK roads.

Crash safety people, Euro NCAP have not yet to tested the Compass, but the structural similararity to Fiat 500X which was given a four-star rating should mean the Compass will get the same rating.

The four-wheel drive Compass is a great off-roader and it’s driving manners on tarmac are much improved from the previous version and does give a compliant comfortable if a touch hard ride. but were it comes into a class of its own is when you do a bit of off roading.   We went off to a nation park so the road was a dirt track and very steep in parts with all sorts of rubble, rocks, fallen trees and huge holes in the road, this car handles them all without a problem.  We had the opportunity to let the car drive itself all I did was steer which was rather weird but the car was in control go up hill and the same coming down, I loved it

The steering comes across as light making it great for town driving although on motorway it can feel a bit vague.

Inside the chunky steering wheel and quality seats give the Compass a ‘strong’ look, while my high-spec Limited had an 8.4-inch touchscreen sat-nav system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s more responsive than the system in it’s competitors, though with no physical buttons to enable you jump quickly between screens it need a bit of getting used to.

Cabin space is good, you won’t want for shoulder room and adults will easily fit in the back seats, it does feel a bit dark in the rear, but that’s the same as any car with a similar sporty roofline.

A large, flat load bay in the boot, and a versatile boot floor, makes the Compass very practical as does the 438-litre boot.

All in all the Compass is a great looker, great of off-road, tons of space inside, loads more personality than some of the more sensible small SUVs on the market at the moment and Jeep look to have a winner on their hands.

Susan Reay

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