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Automatic Choice

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Traffic on the Maa flyover was a long, static line of cars stretching from the Park Circus seven-point crossing towards the Bypass. It moved a bit and then stopped for quite a few minutes. Then it moved a little further before coming to a stop once again. It did that a couple of times more before we finally crossed the intersection. However, apart from the delay, which one could do precious little about, there wasn’t much else that we were complaining about.

We were trying to negotiate rush-hour traffic in Calcutta around 9.30 or so in the morning in the Jeep Compass petrol. There are few better ways to check how comfortable a car is to use in the city than drive it straight in stop-go traffic. And the Compass was keeping us quite happy. The creep mapping of the engine is good and just lifting off the brake pedal is enough to get the car rolling forward. No accelerator input is required. It is hugely less strenuous than operating a manual gearbox in such situations.

t2oS had driven the diesel 4x4 version of the Jeep Compass (The Four Factor, June 25) and come away quite liking the package. The ride was good and so was the engine. But neither that, nor any other version of the Compass diesel, comes with an automatic transmission. So, for anyone looking for a Compass automatic, the only option is to go for the petrol, and that too in the ‘Limited’ trim level. And that’s exactly what we were trying out for fit.

To be honest, we were a bit iffy about it to begin with. The Compass tips the scales at a-ton-and-a-half or thereabouts, depending on which version you’re driving. And we were wondering how well the 1.4-litre Multiair Petrol engine is going to be able to acquit itself hauling this load. In fact, with a full complement of passengers and their luggage, the total vehicle weight can cross two tonnes.

The 1,368cc petrol engine produces approximately 161hp and a peak torque of 250Nm. That’s about 10hp and 100Nm down from the peak outputs of the diesel, which, while competent, isn’t a scorcher. So, we had enough reason to be apprehensive about the performance of the petrol.

The truth is that with the automatic we weren’t really feeling any of that reduction of power or torque. Little of the noise of the smooth four-pot motor seeped into the cabin, making it a quiet place to be. The torque delivery seems to have been worked out so that enough of it comes through at low revs to make driving in city traffic easy.

And, like the diesel, this is not a scorcher, but behaves with enough urgency should one flatten the accelerator to the floor. Even otherwise, acceleration is quick enough and driving on open stretches is stress-free. The other thing is, despite it being kind of biggish, it’s easy to place on the road.

It also has most of the traits of the diesel, such as a good ride, stable handling, a spacious cabin and an equally commodious boot. Since this is a front-wheel drive vehicle and not a 4x4, there’s no Selec-Terrain system to adapt it to drive on sand, rock, and so on, or in low-ratio gears. So, best keep it on tarmac if you buy one. It also has fewer airbags.
The interiors are like that of the diesels for the same levels of trim, with leather seats and wraps on the gear lever and steering. The air-conditioner works well and overall the seats are comfortable both front and back.

The ARAI certified fuel efficiency for the petrol automatic version is 14.1kmpl, but it might be a little naive to expect to achieve that kind of number in a real world that includes traffic jams and rush-hour traffic. Nonetheless, at Rs 19 lakh or Rs 19.71 lakh with options (ex-showroom, Calcutta), it still makes a pretty strong case for itself for the comfort and low stress factor it comes packaged with.

THE SUV IN NUMBERS

Form: Front-engined, front-wheel drive SUVLxBxH (mm): 4,395 x 1,818 x 1,640

Weight (kg): 1,500 approx.

Peak power (hp@rpm): ~161@5,500

Peak torque (Nm@rpm): 250@2,500-4,000

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Fuel efficiency (kmpl)*: 14.1

Showroom price in Calcutta (Rs): 19.00 lakh to 19.71 lakh for the automatic *ARAI certified  

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