Jeep is confident that its next-generatIon Compass will widen the appeal of the US brand sufficiently to spearhead a dramatic surge in corporate sector registrations coinciding with increasing interest among user chooser motorists in lifestyle transport.
“We will be pitching right into the heartland of the compact SUV sector with this car. My aim is for it to cover the area from the Ford Kuga right up to the Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s too early to discuss our exact positioning but I can promise you we will have competitive propositions right across the sector,” said head of Jeep UK Andrew Tracey.
He told Fleet News that details of the new model would be released in autumn prior to the start of the biggest marketing campaign yet mounted by Jeep in Britain.
“Pre-launch activities should get under way well before the end of the year and our network will be involving all their local fleet customers in a programme to make left hand drive examples available for testing prior to the arrival of UK market vehicles in December. We will also be making a tour of the top fleet leasing companies.
“We sold 14,000 cars last year with the Renegade accounting for 11,000 sales. I have no intention of chasing volume, but I regard Compass as the most capable model in the sector, so I see this as a game changer and a car with the potential to generate significant fresh business. I think many people will discover Jeep as a result of the Compass and I don't think it will be long before it becomes our most successful model,” he said.
On sale in January, the car slots in beneath the Cherokee to complete the US firm’s representation in every SUV segment and is claimed to add unrivaled 4x4 capability to more than 70 active and passive safety and security features. designed for maximum practicality, it has a 438-litre boot with a flat loadspace.
In line with other Jeeps, it will come in four trim levels - Sport, Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk - and it will be offered with 1.4-litre petrol, 1.6-litre turbodiesel and two 2.0-litre turbodiesel motors with 138PS and 167PS outputs.
The bigger engines will offer the choice of two or all-drive configuration, the latter with nine-speed auto transmission, but the version expected to be most popular with fleets is the front-drive, six-speed manual Limited model powered by the familiar 118PS 1.6-litre MultiJet-2 unit, which felt smoother, quieter and more refined than the 140PS auto model in our tests.
UK pricing and specification levels have yet to be finalised, but all versions will have forward collision and lane departure warning systems as standard and the roomy, neatly-finished Limited is expected to come with an electric handbrake, rear park assist, an eight-inch colour infotainment display and a 40/20/40 split fold rear seat.
Verdict: With its seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches, the Compass blends the styling hallmarks of legendary rough-and-tumble Jeeps with styling lines that make it one of the most attractive models in the sector. It’s roomy, comfortable and practical - but interior detailing and dull plastics fall short of latest European standards.