By Barry Green
Fiat Chrysler Australia (FCA) didn’t hold back in launching the all-new Jeep Compass, selecting some of the best sealed and unsealed driving roads in Tasmania for its launch.
The sinuous blacktop south of Hobart that comprises several Targa Tasmania stages and the challenging Pelverata Falls track proved just the ticket for a comprehensive on and off-road test.
The route took in south out of the Hobart CBD towards Mt Wellington, then through Sandfly, Kaoota – a detour up the Pelverata track – upper Woodstock, Huonville and onto Ranelagh for lunch. Stage two reversed the drive.
Our first mount was the Jeep Compass Limited, which comes with a choice of 2.4-litre Tigershark petrol engine or 2.0-litre diesel, both paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive as standard. ‘Our’ car was the petrol version.
The 129kW/229Nm Tigershark engine/nine-speed auto is a willing and linear combination and it didn’t take long behind the wheel to be impressed with the newcomer’s improved road manners and ability. Handling, steering, ride quality, comfort and NVH (noise/vibration/harshness) levels are all vastly superior to that of its predecessor.
The detour up Pelverata afforded the opportunity to test out the Limited’s Selec-Terrain traction management system, which offers a choice of Auto, Sand, Mud and Snow modes for the most competent driving experience over just about any terrain. And so it proved.
After lunch, it was into Compass’ halo model, the Trail Rated 2.0-litre, 125kW/350Nm diesel Trailhawk to see if it lives up to FCA’s claim of best-in-class 4×4 capability. This time, we ventured much further up the Pelverata track, into rugged ruts and mudholes of questionable depth.
We need not have worried – the Trailhawk comes loaded for bear: Active Drive Low 4×4 system, Selec-Terrain with additional Rock Mode, off-road suspension, raised ride height and hill descent control.
It also boasts recovery hooks and all-weather floor mats, but such is its prowess that we didn’t need to call on either. On the extreme occasion, we could hear some graunching from underneath, but later inspection showed it was just the four underbody skid plates doing their job.
Back on the bitumen, the Trailhawk switched from mountain goat to thoroughbred galloper with ease, eating up the kilometres on the backroad and highway run to Hobart.
So, there’s plenty to like. Dislikes? Basically, the front seats – while comfy and enduring – could do with more lateral support and none of the six variants in the range except the Trailhawk get a full-sized spare wheel.
Based on our drive, the new Compass has truly found its bearings.
For technical background and pricing, click here.