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Jeep Compass could get performance halo

New direction: For now, the Trailhawk is the jewel in the Compass crown, but Jeep is mulling other variants to join the range.

Driver-focused Jeep Compass not ruled out, hybrid unlikely

6 Mar 2017


JEEP considered shoehorning its Pentastar V6 petrol engine under the bonnet of its freshly-launched Compass small SUV to create a more potent version but, while the sporty variant does not quite stack up at this stage, a higher-performance version is not out of the question, it says.

For now, the all-new 2017 Compass will be offered with a range of four-cylinder engines including petrol and diesel power, but with the most powerful 2.4-litre version producing just 134kW there is plenty of space to accommodate a punchier variety at the top.

Speaking at the international launch of the Compass, leading engineer Jim Lyijynen said that while the V6 will not currently slot into the Compass, the company has already looked at more powerful possibilities and had not closed the door on a more driver-focused version.

“Could a six-cylinder package? That’s something that we may decide to look at,” he said.

“Right now it does not currently package. We haven’t studied it recently. It was studied before but the engines that best met the customer requirements are the four-cylinder 2.4.”

For now, it seems unlikely that a faster Compass version will be powered by six-cylinders, but Mr Lyijynen explained that extra capacity was not the only path to more power, suggesting a sportier Compass might borrow a different engine in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) repertoire.

“There’s a perception that customers have had in the market place for many years that more cylinders equals better power and more performance. Certainly, what the industry has continued to prove over and over is that performance does not necessarily equal the number of cylinders.”

If the Compass gets more grunt, such engines could include the 1.7-litre turbo four that powers the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV with a healthy 177kW or a version of the Giulia 2.0-litre turbo that produces up to 206kW.

While a donor engine from one of Jeep’s sister brands would make the most economical sense, Mr Lyijynen said the company was also continuing to develop its own future engines, which open up further possibilities for a new Compass variant.

“We certainly do and as you imagine, all the other auto-makers are doing, we are continuing to develop advanced power trains.”

Mr Lyijynen was quick to dowse hopes that the Compass might be the first model to debut rumoured hybrid power for the seven-slot-grille brand.

“It’s hard for me to speculate on the future but right now I can tell you with certainty that there are no current plans for a hybrid of the Compass.”

While more typically associated with the off-road realm, Jeep is no stranger to tyre-shredding performance for the road since the introduction of the manic Grand Cherokee SRT8 in 2004 – a model that continues to sell strongly in Australia (now dubbed SRT).

Jeep Compass exterior chief designer Vince Galante explained that models like the unapologetic SRT were conceived through a culture of free thinking and that the same approach continues to be applied to other Jeep models including the Compass.

“Stylistically we continue to try things,” he said. “Originally, the Grand Cherokee back in 2004 we thought - ‘why would we do this’ and it turned out it was really cool. We try stuff thinking ‘there’s no way this is going to work’ but it turns out kind of cool.”

Mr Galante explained that it was the same sky’s-the-limit attitude that had spawned the Altitude variant of the Grand Cherokee offered in the United States and that all Jeep vehicles are versatile enough for the treatment.

“All the Jeep products are so flexible so we keep trying things and we always go too far and then pull back. That’s how we ended up with our Altitude models.

“We’ll continue to try things”.

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