Compass has softer lines but is still one tough cookie

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

I wouldn't say the Jeep brand went soft - but it definitely tapped into its more feminine side when it introduced the Jeep Compass two years ago.

The imposing grille and headlights, so much a trademark of Jeeps gone by, remain, but the curves are more Angelina Jolie than Sylvester Stallone.

Now we all know about Jeep's legendary off-road capabilities but the Compass, by the very nature of its design, will probably see as much off-road action as a Fiat Uno. In other words - zilch!

That's not to say it won't handle the get-down-and-dirty of bundu bashing - especially as it comes with 4-WD Lock - from sand and mud to snow. But it will primarily be used around town. Sandton housewives take note!

It provides a comfortable ride with fairly soft suspension and the grey leather trim seats soak up any excess vibration.

One of the things I enjoyed behind the wheel of the Compass was being physically higher than most other motorists.

The Compass comes in three derivatives: a 2,4-litre manual (R259900), a 2,4-litre automatic (R269900) and a 2,0-litre diesel automatic (R299900).

On test day we had the 2,4-litre automatic that is home to a gearbox that is not only willing in the power stakes, but extremely smooth as well.

In the safety department you get the standard features for a vehicle in the R270000 price range - airbags, ABS brakes and what the manufacturers call "crush zones".

These, they say, help in case of a head-on collision.

The interior is completely functional, with its knobs and dials clearly visible and within easy reach.

The boot is large enough for your set of golf clubs and more space can be gained by lowering the back seats. Air con, CD-MP3 and electric windows are standard across the range.

The Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment, into which the Compass falls, is an extremely competitive division but this vehicle will sit quite comfortably among its rivals, and its price seems pretty much spot-on.

lThe Compass comes with a three-year-100000km warranty and three-year-60000km service plan.