A year with my Jeep Compass diesel MT 4×2: What I like & what I don’t

A year with my Jeep Compass diesel MT 4×2: What I like & what I don’t

12/26/2022

Handling at high speeds on highways is absolutely fantastic. It is absolutely stable at three-digit speeds, good for quick lane changes and confident and stable in braking at high speeds.

BHPian ArjunKrish recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello everyone,

I have been a long-time reader of this wonderful and interesting forum but haven’t posted till now. This is my first post here and I would like to share my experience of buying and owning the Jeep Compass diesel MT 4×2 Longitude, which I bought in October of 2021.

I am a person who likes to keep my cars for a long time. The reasons being:

My usage is around 12000 to 15000 kms per year which would only take the cars Odometer to just 150000Kms in 10 years, which is too less of a mileage for modern cars to have any trouble, if maintained (serviced regularly) well.

Other reason is the obvious financial one. Although I love cars and would love to keep buying new ones every few years (Well, who wouldn’t 🙂 ) the price we pay for cars and spares in India does not make a case for changing cars every few years unless the usage is quite high. The tax rates on cars (and probably most other things too) here in our country are too high as we all know. GST, Cess, Import Duties, TDS, Registration and Road Tax and Insurance. Add to this the Income tax we pay for the money earned with which we buy the car. The effective tax rates should be upwards of 70%. Sigh!! And what kind of roads do we get after paying so much in taxes Well, sorry about the rant.

My previous ride has been the Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI PD which was bought in 2008 and nearing completion of its 15th year. This is a car that introduced me to what qualities a good car must have. The build quality- both inside and out. The reassuring thud of the door shut. Insulation from road and engine noise (The engine being a Pumpe Duse and not Common Rail, was quite noisy though. But never was a problem for me.) The way the steering lets you feel the road through your hands. The precision with which the driver input reaches the front wheels. The handling and ride quality which were outstanding. I could go on about the Fabia, but this is not the right thread for it. I know. Why I am mentioning this is that since it was my first ride and a long term one, I would be comparing my Jeep Compass’ features and drive quality with my Fabia.

Coming to the other options before buying, I honestly did not have many cars in mind. I was waiting for the Skoda Kushaq and Volkswagen Taigun to launch and once they were out, I had a look, read and watched reviews and somehow, I did not feel like it was much of an upgrade from the Fabia. The Interior quality was a bit of a downer for me, not a deal breaker though. But the EPC issues were scary and I did not want to wait long till the issues were completely fixed. Plus, I am someone who rarely drives sedately or with a light foot. So, I wanted a Diesel, which would be more forgiving for my heavy-footed driving. Plus, I love the tug of torque you get from a Diesel engine. This turned my eyes (and heart) towards the Jeep Compass. In fact, I always had an eye on Jeep.

In 2016 when Jeep started operations in India, I was quite excited to know that the Jeep brand that I have always admired had finally come to India! I used to work in IT and live in Chennai during that time. My daily commute was via Old Mahabalipuram Road and there was a Jeep showroom at Perungudi (Guys from Chennai would know). Whenever I was driving past the showroom, my head used to turn trying to catch a glimpse of the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee that would be on display. When the Compass was launched, I was optimistic that I could afford this Jeep sometime in the future. Fast forward to 2021- I took a test drive of the Compass Diesel manual and booked the car right away.

I had booked the Jeep Compass Diesel MT 4×2 Longitude. My reasons for going with this variant are:

I did NOT want a panoramic sunroof. I hate panoramic sunroofs. No offence to people who like it, but practically speaking, sunroofs do not make sense for our climatic (hot and sunny) and environmental (dusty and polluted) conditions. My old Fabia has a single pane sunroof and the only times I open it is when driving in hill stations while the weather is cloudy and cool. But if there was a vehicle passing close in front of me, I had to close the sunroof to avoid all the dust and smoke from getting inside. Plus, I have had a clogging issue once during the monsoon in Chennai that caused the water to leak on the driver and passenger from the roof liner. It dampened the roof liner and that caused it to loosen and sag after a few weeks and I had to replace the roof liner. I did not want to go through such things again and did not want that awful amount of heat coming from above either. I would not have had a problem having a single pane sunroof, but definitely not the large ones.

The reason for choosing a Diesel engine is mentioned in one of the above paragraphs. I like driving manual transmissions. Did not want an automatic at this point of time. I live in a small town and I drive to the nearby cities often but did not want the extra convenience of an automatic at the cost of driver engagement. Although, I would have liked if the Manual transmission was offered in the 4×4 guise like before.

The only features that I liked and found to be useful on the top variant- Model S are the ventilated seats, the 18 inch alloys and the Greyed out seven slat grille and the strips running along the window line and the rear windshield. The last one is purely cosmetic and I don’t really bother about it. The 18 inch alloys look cool and probably would be better for cornering?!! I will come to this later. The ventilated seats are the only ones I cannot get out of the factory but paying another 5 lakhs just for the Ventilated seats alone did not make sense. I wish we had more customization options in India to omit or add features, like they have in the US and Europe.

I do not wish to make this post a very long one and therefore I will not elaborate on the buying and PDI process. The salesperson Mr. Shankar from SRT Jeep, Coimbatore was prompt in arranging a test drive and helpful right from the beginning. The sales and PDI process went on smooth and in one month time, I had my car delivered.

Coming to the likes and dislikes now. Here is where I need to make comparisons to my old Fabia and the Compass.

Likes and dislikes:

Build quality- Exterior:

The body seems pretty strong. You get that reassuring thud while closing the door. But still, it doesn’t feel as heavy and strong as the 2008 Fabia. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the made in India Jeep Compass would score well in Indian GNCAP crash test ratings. Fingers Crossed!!!

Build quality- Interior:

The build quality of the interior plastics is quite good. I have got used to the soft touch plastics on the Fabia’s dashboard so much that any car with hard plastics on the dashboard felt cheap. Thankfully, the Compass has got soft touch plastics on the dashboard and front door pads. I wish Jeep had fit soft touch door pads for the rear too. How much are they going to save in costs here?!

The looks of the car. This is one great looking car both inside and out.

The interior space is quite good enough for me. The seats are pretty large and hold you well. The rear seats are good too and the legroom, headroom and shoulder room are great to keep 4 passengers in comfort on long drives. The boot capacity is quite good, in my opinion. Though, I wish there was a recline function for the rear seatback.

Engine:

The 2.0 MultiJet 2 and the manual transmission combination make for an exciting drive. It is quite torquey even below 2000 rpm and the mad rush of torque post 2000 rpm is addictive. Coming from a car with a smaller engine, it took me some time to get used to this explosive torque in the turbo zone. Where I used to slam the accelerator pedal to the floor in my Fabia, I was trying to be light on the throttle here with the Compass.

Clutch:

The clutch is on the heavier side which is absolutely not a problem for me. Probably this is what one can expect from a car with a large diesel engine and 350Nm of torque. I don’t have any complaints on this. But for people who drive in heavy city traffic on a daily basis, this is not the car you want to be driving. The automatic should be the automatic choice.

Gearshifts:

Coming from the butter smooth and precise gearshifts of the Fabia, I found the Compass’ gear shift was slightly harder. They slotted precisely but it is just that it felt a bit clunky. All these are not a problem at all. I am just making a comparison to my old car to highlight the difference.

The steering:

I should definitely compare this aspect with my Fabia. The Fabia’s steering is an electro-hydraulic unit and therefore it is heavier. It does not have slack in the center position and it is so direct and fast. It offers so much feedback from the road that you feel like you are walking with your hands on the road. It lets you know exactly what the front wheels are doing and that in turn gives you a lot of confidence to push it around corners. It was a tactile delight!

The steering on the Compass is a bit light for my liking. I would have preferred it to be heavier and weigh up more consistently at higher speeds and higher degree of turn. What I feel is that the steering is pretty light when in the straight-ahead position but when you turn in to some degree you can feel that it starts becoming heavier. And also, the steering doesn’t offer much feedback from the road. You have a faint idea of what the front wheels are up to but not exactly what they are doing. Moreover, the steering in the center position and a little off from the center position doesn’t give much feel, but when you turn in more you can feel more of the road and what the front wheels are up to.

Handling:

Handling at high speeds on highways is absolutely fantastic. It is absolutely stable at three-digit speeds, good for quick lane changes and confident and stable in braking at high speeds.

The same is not the case when it comes to winding roads. I know I cannot expect a heavy crossover with a relatively higher center of gravity to handle the same as a small hatchback with a lower center of gravity. But this is not based on a traditional body-on-frame construction and not a hardcore off-roader, is it?! It is a monocoque crossover built for soft-roading and therefore we tend to expect more in terms of handling. The Compass does not impress here but does not disappoint either.

When you take the points I said about the steering into consideration, you have a crossover that does not really encourage you to push hard into corners. The corners where my Fabia lets me feel the road and judge the speed at which I can enter a corner, the Compass does not make me feel that confident. I am really not sure what speed I can enter the corner at, but when I turn to a degree the steering feels heavier and offers more feedback which makes you to suddenly realize that you could have entered the corner at a higher speed. But at the same time, you can feel the understeer and the wheels squealing a bit. Nonetheless, I could carry same speeds on my Compass as with my Fabia into the same corners, but with a bit of squealing from the tyres.

Actually, it took me some time to get a hold of the steering feel and the cornering grip of the Compass. I drove both my cars several times on the same roads, same corners and found out that I was actually going at higher speeds into the corner with my Compass than I did with my Fabia. For example, there is a road with sparse traffic, it has an almost 90-degree corner at a place. I go through that corner at 60kmph in the Compass and obviously it goes into understeer and the tyres squeal a lot. When I attempted the same corner with the Fabia at 60kmph, it did go into understeer and the tyres did squeal too, although slightly less than the compass. But when you drive through back-to-back corners which require you to change directions quickly (I think they call these switchbacks), the Compass understeers markedly and the tyres screech louder which might startle the people around. The same switchbacks did not cause any understeer or squealing noise in the Fabia. Passers-by would not even notice that I was driving hard. I tried the same switchbacks with the Skoda Kushaq 1.5 TSI manual transmission, and it was similar to the Fabia, passed with flying colors.

Ride quality:

I am someone who doesn’t really mind a firmer ride quality. The ride quality is a bit on the firmer side on the Compass but softer than the Fabia. That could probably be because of the tyres with taller side walls and the Frequency Selective Dampers. I would always be willing to sacrifice a bit of ride quality for better handling.

Something I sorely miss is a sunglass Holder. My old Fabia has it and it is very convenient to store the sunglass, to take it out or put it inside whenever you want instead of opening a glove box. Moreover, you cannot store the sunglass in the glove box without putting it in to a case which is inconvenient when you are driving.

Auto Start Stop is something that I don’t use at all. I have to turn it off every time I start the car, which is an irritant.

Speed chimes:

Nothing much to say here except that I despise the loud speed chimes.

I believe I have put down all the things that were in my mind for now.

I have a few questions for fellow BHPans. Would appreciate if you can share your knowledge, thoughts on these.:

If I upgrade the alloy wheels from 17inch to 18inch, would that help with the cornering abilities of the Compass? If so, how much of an improvement would it be?

I was talking about this to a service advisor and he suggested me not to put on 18 inch wheels. His reason is that the bushes and suspension parts of the variants with 18 inch wheels are stronger and harder and if I did that to my Longitude variant, that would wear off the bushes sooner than normal. Is it so? I know the suspension tuning, damper rates vary between different engines on the same car to adjust for the change in weight, but is it true that the Compass has slightly different suspension components between the 17 inch (Sport and Longitude) and 18 inch (Limited and Model S) models?

Are all Electric Power Steering units similar in terms of feel, feedback and lightness? I haven’t driven many cars to know the difference. Anyone with exposure to different cars with Electric Power Steering (for example: Mahindra XUV700, VW TRoc, Skoda Karoq, BMW X1, BMW 3 series) who would have also driven a Compass can throw some light on the comparison.

The recommended tyre pressure for the Compass diesel is 35psi at the front and 32psi at the rear. Are these the pressures for a full load of 5 people with lots of luggage? If so then what would be the proper tyre pressure for a load of 3 or 2 people with minimal luggage? I tried 34psi at front and 31psi at rear, but it feels too bumpy and hard. I have brought it down to 33.5psi front and 30psi rear. It feels kind of ok. What are your suggestions here?

This indeed is a long one. Especially the Steering and Handling part. I couldn’t express the way I felt with the steering and handling in just a few words.

Cheers,

Arjun

Here’s what BHPian alphahere had to say on the matter:

I am also on the wait now to get my Compass S 4×4. I chose white and they have promised a delivery in the first week of 2023. I already own an X1 xDrive at the place where I work and live (not my hometown). I can say that the Bimmer can’t be steered with one finger or one hand. Even if you wanted to steer it with one hand you’d have to wrap your fingers where you can find the leverage. It is not feather light. But it is good, it feels really connected and you don’t find yourself correcting the path because the car did not track where expected. I haven’t driven the Jeep in it’s Indian avatar but I had a short stint with the 4xe version just to get a feel of the interiors to see what I was getting into here. The wheel was surely lighter than the BMW.

I’d go for 33psi all round, it seems to be the better balance of FE, handling and comfort. Will need to see if this holds true for the Jeep as well, but I’d make a wild guess that it does. Not sure why they would recommend 35psi and I don’t think tire pressure varies wildly based on loading unless the load causes a change in the volume of the tire.

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