Touring in central France with the Jeep Compass: enjoying authentic driving pleasure and Gran Turismo comfort…

Where do Jeep drivers go in France? Of course to the Château du Clos de Vougeot in the very heart of Burgundy’s vineyards…

The Jeep Compass, launched last year, has been the first new Jeep model since it joined the Stellantis Group, and is one of its most important bestsellers. In Europe, it accounts for 40 % of total Jeep sales.

More than reason enough to put it through its paces: we drove the 96 kW/130 HP petrol engined version with the 6 speed manual transmission, all the way through France, on many autoroutes, routes nationales and départementales, to find out what a modern, petrol engined car in this day and age (still) has to offer. We were truly surprised how refined, powerful and frugal this Compass really is. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Jeep is compact enough to feel ideally at home on Cévenne country roads…

Well proportioned …

The new Compass combines the typical Jeep styling cues with well proportioned modernism, and indeed it pleases from any angle. Its dimensions are indeed “just right” for those customers who seek space and comfort, as we found out when we drove it on the narrow mountain and village roads in the Massif Central and Alpes Maritimes. Visibility of the edges of the car is greatly helped by the panoramic camera’s fore and aft, and one needs them indeed when maneuvering in narrow spaces.

The interior has been completely redesigned. The central horizontal dashboard panel looks elegant, with ultra-slim air intakes that almost disappear into its layered structure. The controls are easy to reach, as is the connectivity touchscreen that dominates the middle of the dashboard, now in a higher and more ergonomic position. We liked this. The fact that this Compass now has the new Uconnect 5 system with a more powerful, higher-performance processor with a five times better responsiveness than the previous generation, made selecting your route or favorite music the proverbial breeze.

By using an Android operating system and 4G connectivity with Over-the-Air (OTA) updates, the Uconnect 5 brings flexibility and the possibility to offer continuously new content, features and services. On longer trips, not only excellent and clear route and map info is important, but also a state-of-the-art sound system. This Compass offered both…

The controls are logical, intuitive, and soon we were cruising happily along…

The driving info from the digital instruments is also to the point: we focused on relaxed economical driving, and to monitor our driving exploits, it proved ideal. Indeed, it shows you at a glance your instant consumption, and graphically shows with an illuminated arc how this relates to the average consumption. It also shows you when to change up to achieve most economical driving. Truly excellent! For the rest, it limits itself to rev counter and large digital speed indicator.

Of course you can select on the steering wheel another display which gives you info about the oil and water temperature, oil pressure and battery charge…for the technical buffs amongst us, and the Jeep drivers who really want to KNOW.

For our long French drive, the seats proved very comfortable, and here we also want to put a good word about the excellent sound insulation. Road and tire noise as well as wind noise are almost totally absent, and also the engine is inaudible at cruising speeds. So listening to the conversations and interviews on France Culture is effortless, and you or your passenger can also speak totally normally. A factor which is so important to relaxed driving, but is rarely mentioned…

Engine: zesty, quiet, flexible and willing…

Under the hood purrs a 1332 cc 4 cylinder petrol engine, developing 130 HP (96 kW) @ 4750 rpm, with a very healthy pulling power. Indeed, 270 Nm is available already @ 1560 rpm. Understandable as one knows that this is a long stroke unit with 70 mm bore and 86,5 mm stroke. It is turbo fed and has a Multi Air III GDI – Third Generation Gasoline Direct Injection, is indeed totally docile and will pull readily from 1200 rpm onwards; this excellent torque greatly helped our relaxed and economical driving, and we enjoyed the totally silent, vibration free pulling power in the 1200 to 2000 rpm range, delivering power comfort totally akin to an electrical power unit. So indeed, change up the gears as soon as possible, flow with the traffic and enjoy!

Driveability is somewhat hesitant in bottom gear at smaller throttle openings, so one learns to change into second as soon as possible when one is not in a hurry and want the smoothest getaway. Modern automatic transmissions take care of this beautifully, so, despite our love for manuals, we would prefer the excellent 8 speed auto box here to enjoy your Compass even more in stop and go traffic. This option is however coupled to a 150 HP version of this engine.

Of course, when put through its paces, good performance is there. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 10,3 seconds, top speed is 192 km/h. More than we ever used on our touring trip.

The manufacturer quotes fuel consumption – combined cycle (l/100km) at 6.6 – 6.9 l, we achieved an average of 6,6 liters during our test, which besides Autoroutes  and Nationales  included also many villages, cities and mountain roads and winding  Départementales. CO2 emissions – combined cycle (g/km) lies between 152 – 158.

Of course, with a kerb weight of 1,505 kg including driver, it is very important to conserve kinetic energy as much as possible and certainly in urban driving an anticipative driving style will be rewarded.

The practical advantages of petrol engined propulsion do not have to be further underlined here. A beautiful useable range of over 800 km on a full 55 litre tank, with the plentiful availability of gas stations and of course no recharging times to reckon with. For example at Vougeot, in the midst of the Burgundy vineyards we would be (very) hard pressed to find a recharging station in the village… nearby our hotel, if any! There was just ONE, with 4 charging posts at the hotel Clos de la Vouge, which was about 400 m from our hotel. It was of course occupied by the own hotel guests. It was run by Shell Recharge, and it was – according to internet info – not powered by renewable energy.

On top of that, with an average consumption of 6,6 litres/100 km, the well to wheel figure will compare rather well with a similar EV, which would weigh an additional 500 kg because if its batteries… 

This amply shows that the charging infrastructure in Europe has still a long way to go, to enjoy carefree EV mobility everywhere, and a petrol engined car still remains in the present material circumstances a viable proposition…

If you would ever consider holiday travelling with an EV through France, you MUST have first a look at https://www.electricfelix.com/france. It is interesting and full of very valuable tips! Consulting https://chargemap.com will also put you (literally) on the good path.

Comfortable

We drove the Compass in the Limited edition, and this includes accessories like the motion controlled automatic rear boot lid. It proved indeed a very practical option on any Gran Turismo trip. We mentioned already the total ease of use and practicality of the Compass, and we also should mention that the Uconnect 5 system with a 10.1-inch touchscreen and integrated TomTom navigation also boasts the natural language interface system with advanced voice recognition, so you can talk to the car to control its settings, program the air conditioning and choose your favorite music. This feature is integrated into vehicles with Tom-tom navigation and can be activated hands-free with the wake word “Hey Jeep!”.

Boot space is standard with seats up some 438 litres, with seats folded 1,387 litres.

The suspension gives a good feedback of the road surfaces and is overall quite comfortable. The Compass version we drove has only front wheel drive, but with its ample ground clearance of 198 mm we steered it with utter confidence on unhardened country roads, and enjoyed urban and (mountainous) rural France to the full.

Conclusion

The Jeep Compass proved to be a well-balanced, ideal Gran Turismo car, an absolute joy to take on a long(er) trip.

It also made very clear that a modern petrol engined car still is a very reasonable and above all practical means of transport, with excellent economy combined with smooth and refined performance. On top of that comes the typical panache of Jeep, growing ever more into an iconic brand, with a very fitting styling language. So if you have a heart for (even the slightest) adventure and appreciate motoring which character, take the road of (this) Jeep…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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