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Jeep Compass

We drove the new Jeep Compass on its European launch in the summer. But now we’ve tried it out where it matters – here in Blighty.

Again, we had a spin in the 2.0 Multijet II diesel, but this time we also tried out the 1.4 MultiAir II turbocharged petrol equivalent. In versions of the Compass with four-wheel drive, both produce the same figure of 170bhp when mated to Jeep’s nine-speed auto box (there’s also a 140bhp version of the 2.0-litre unit with a manual box, but that’s for another day).

So our test was really about the two engines. At cruising speeds, there’s nothing to choose between them. The gearbox transitions are smooth and both are similarly quiet and comfortable.

Inside, the cabin is cleanly laid out and the touch-screen infotainment system is simple to navigate. The vehicles driven here were both in range-topping Limited spec, which means seats trimmed in full leather and, at the front, both heated and vented.

Again, the leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good and solid and the cruise control regulators are straightforward to operate. For taller drivers who require the seat further back, however, the restricted headroom that comes as a side product of the panoramic sunroof isn’t ideal.

We found the Compass’ ride to be notably informative over something as slight as cats’ eyes, and on uneven streets and B-roads this was amplified. It wasn’t uncomfortable by any means, but for something with off-road credentials in the wheelhouse we hoped for a smoother deal on everyday surfaces.

Talking of off-road credentials, we didn’t get to test these as the route set out for us to follow on the launch stuck exclusively to tarmac. There is, however, a Trailhawk version of the Compass coming during 2018 – and if you like the look of the vehicle as your next off-road giant-slayer, it will certainly be the one to wait for.

Back in the here and now, the biggest difference between the engines in driving terms is how they work with the automatic gearbox. Both may produce the same power, but the diesel has 258lbf.ft from 1750rpm while the petrol only gives you 184lbf.ft at 2500rpm – and the difference is very apparent.

The petrol engine doesn’t cover the auto box in a lot of glory. Unless it’s bullied, we found it sluggish when pulling away – bridging the gap between dangling yourself in front of traffic at roundabouts and steaming across them can be a frustrating task. A window of opportunity in between these extremes does exist – it’s just smaller than you might expect.

There are similar delays in power delivery when building up speed – and if you over-compensate, your wrists are slapped with torque steer. Downshifts on a decline caught it out a few times, too – we found it shifting down a gear too many and over-revving loudly as a result.

The diesel is a lot better behaved. The sooner the torque comes in, the happier the gearbox is. It doesn’t feel as if there are too many gear ratios in the mix, it copes better with downshifts and it’s less anxious and more refined in city centre traffic.

In every other way, the Compass is comfortable in urban environments, with light steering making it easy and untaxing to manoeuvre around town. Its contemporary styling makes it look like it belongs, too – which, trivial though it may sound, is no small concern on the school run.

Visibility is less than fantastic, however. There are blind spot indicators to help you out, but the C-pillars do dominate the view over your shoulder.12

On the whole, though, the Compass is a solid entrant for Jeep into the medium SUV market. We’d certainly choose the 2.0-litre diesel, however, whose extra torque works far better with the auto gearbox, making it much nicer to live with, and in Limited trim the cabin is a really nice, plush place to sit.

It is, however, on the expensive side. The 2.0 MultiJet II auto 4×4 lists at £34,295, and the vehicle we drove on the launch had options on it which would have taken that to £39,645. How that will look alongside the best of the Compass’ many excellent competitors in the medium SUV market is open to question – though taken on its own merits, this new Jeep certainly does have a lot to recommend it.

tioysChristmas is a great excuse to buy someone something that you’d really like yourself, but feel you shouldn’t really! When it comes to radiocontrolled model off-roaders, then we are sure that any of the younger offspring in the family would just love one of these; and you’d be just the person to explain how to drive it off-road! This is a 10th scale Jeep Wrangler from Axial, fi tted with Falken tyres apparently. It’s claimed to be a fully functional rock-crawler and all you will need to buy are batteries. Looks great to us, and it will be on the list to Santa. Fully functional, the Axial model is not cheap at £314.99, but what better way to work off the Christmas turkey than running around the garden driving over the neighbour’s rockery? Available from model shops, call 0845 459 1966, email: uk@hobbico.de or visit the website… but beware, there are some fantastic models on there! Important legal bit: Jeep and related logos, vehicle model names and trade dresses are trademarks of Chrysler Group LLC and are used under license by Axial Inc. © Chrysler Group LLC 2014 Website: www.axialracing.com

chaorOK, so this isn’t technically a product that has a specific ‘off-road’ application, but it is certainly ‘out there’. This new offi ce seat is a replica of the seats fi tted to the Millennium Falcon spaceship, made famous in the Star Wars franchise. It is actually designed and built by Geoff Dunsford, the man who designed the originals. Besides looking rather cool, and we assume very comfortable since you can travel to another Galaxy while seated, each seat comes numbered and authenticated; this is a strictly limited production run. Geoff is obviously in the seat business and he is, with his son Mark, ‘the force’ behind Cobra seats. (That pun was in the release sent to us, so we make no excuses, but it did make us smile!). As a limited edition, it’s not a cheap seat but if you are a Star Wars fan, or just want something a little different in your offi ce, then you’ll probably be OK with the £690 price (inc VAT). Website: www.cobraseats.com

WINTER IS COMINGThis is being written during August and Surrey’s second day of continuous rain! Summer appears to most definitely be over. This means that temperatures will drop and thoughts ought to turn to weather you should consider a winter tyre for your SUV. Regular readers will know that we are particularly evangelical about the winter tyre and highly recommend it. The guys at Toyo think similarly and have announced the new Open Country W/T tyre. In case you are new to this, the point of a winter tyre is that the compound is different to a summer option and as such offers considerably more grip once the temperature drops below 7degC – and that is the average temperature in the UK during morning and afternoon rush hours for SIX MONTHS of the year. So please don’t think about a winter tyre as a snow tyre, although when the white stuff does fall the winter compound and the tyre’s tread design, which includes deeper side grooves, or sipes, will give you a lot better grip and traction. Indeed, once you fit winter tyres, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to decide to swop each year. The Toyo options are available from 15 to 20 inch sizes, with prices starting at around £80 a tyre.

Website: www.toyo.co.uk

BELIEVE IN MAGIC?We are always a little wary of fuel treatment potions. If these things all ‘worked’ then wouldn’t we all be using them? For vehicles with older engines, however, it is certainly the case that today’s modern emission regulations can be difficult to achieve when the time comes for the MOT. It may make sense, therefore, to at least try these new Magic Bullet options available from Euro Car Parts as they are aimed at reducing emissions. The range also includes two options to clean catalytic convertors for both diesel and petrol engine vehicles.

Website: www.eurocarparts.com 

KEEP COVEREDThis new awning from Rhino-Jack, the Foxwing Eco 2.1 is ideal for small and medium SUVs. It is simple to mount and then swings out from the rear and side of your vehicle, offering no less than 270degs of shade. Given that it was originally designed for Australia, that makes a lot of sense, for those of us living in the soggy UK, you’ll be pleased to know that it is also waterproof so works well to allow you to sit outside when the weather turns. Made from lightweight polyester, with a UV protective polyutherene coating, the extension poles are anodised aluminium and therefore rustproof. Rhino-Jack has a great range of off-road accessories and all are available from the guys at TBR Accessories, so give them a call on 0800 169 9946 / 01832 275396 or check out the website for more details.

Website: www.tbruk.com 

LIGHT HEADEDAs we are mentioning the coming colder months here, it will also mean shorter days and a lot less sunlight. Working on a vehicle in the afternoon – especially when you are underneath it! – can be difficult, and a head torch can be an ideal accessory. Of course, these are also a ‘must have’ for all people thinking of travelling overland, and to be honest great to have even if you are just venturing to a UK campsite. If you are going to get one, then we have no problem recommending this one from ARB, it’s a 5W LED headlamp, fully adjustable and will run for a claimed seven hours. It comes complete with three AAA batteries and has a RRP of £24. Further details and your local distributor can be found on the Arbil 4×4 website.

Website: www.arbil.co.uk/4×4/ 

See clearly nowThis recent hot weather does bring with it the odd thunderstorm and if you are caught out driving in a heavy rainfall it can be an alarming experience. There seems to be too much water falling and the wipers often don’t seem able to cope. There is a cheap and highly effective way to aid your vision. Armor All produce a product called Shield for Glass and it has an amazing affect of almost ‘repelling’ the water. It’s used by a lot of motorsport enthusiasts when caught in a rainstorm while racing. Trust us, it works! Available at a lot of motor suppliers or you can call 0845 602 1995 for find your nearest supplier.

Website: www.amorall.eu

Picture thisThe trend to capture on camera your off-road exploits is a growing one. You can see budding film directors following the exploits of friends and family at many a Pay ‘n’ Play day. If this is something you fancy, and would like a ‘driver’s eye view’ of what’s happening then you really need a decent clamp to hold your camera steady… and often that’s not your co-driver bouncing alongside! RAM has some new action camera mounts that solve this problem. We have used a RAM mount before and can confirm that they are certainly rigged and well built, made from marine-grade aluminium, with durable composite plastics and the company’s patented shock-absorbent rubber coated adjustable ball sockets. These things can be fitted to roll cages, windscreens or any flat edge. The range of mounts is comprehensive, check out the website.

Website: www.ram-mount.co.uk 

Quality shackleWell known for an extensive range of high quality overland adventure gear, Front Runner has a great range that is ideal for Challenge competitors. Front Runner has a recovery range that includes Sand Traxs right through to canvas recovery bags. The company also makes this exquisite titanium shackle, and it’s a work of art! Rated for 4.75ton it does the job as well. Now available in the UK from Front Runner dealers. To find your local dealer just email info@frontrunneroutfitters.eu.

Website: www.frontrunneroutfitters.eu 

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