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Jeep Compass is Grand Cherokee mini-me

Avengers Assemble: Jeep has taken styling cues and design inspirations from many different sources, including comic-book superhero Iron Man, to update the look of its new Compass SUV.

An upmarket look was sought for Jeep’s new Compass after success of outgoing model

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Jeep logo21 Nov 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

JEEP has revealed that the all-new second-generation Compass, due in Australia in the final quarter of next year, was styled to deliberately look like a shrunken Grand Cherokee.

According to Jeep chief designer Mark Allen, when work began on the project in late-2013, the goal was to create a more expensive look that would translate across all markets, reflecting the global nature of the MP-series medium SUV.

The catalyst for this approach occurred in 2011 when the original MK Compass, first seen in 2006, received a facelift that moved away from the rough-and-rugged round-eye look of the early-2000s Cherokee/Liberty to the more streamlined and elegant rectangular appearance.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) gave Jeep only five weeks to carry out the update, yet the result rejuvenated the small SUV both in North America and worldwide despite its advancing years.

“We were surprised how well the shrunken Grand Cherokee look played out for us,” Mr Allen admitted at last week’s Compass unveiling during the Los Angeles motor show.

“Buyers really responded to it, so we decided to build on that for the all-new model.

“The Jeep brand has both a rough/tough rocky off-road side and a downtown vision – the bookends being the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee respectively. That’s the spread. And the Compass is now very connected to the latter rather than the former side of things.”

Unlike the outgoing Compass, which will soldier on until sometime later next year, the newcomer will be manufactured in Brazil, Mexico, China and India – with the latter providing for the Australian market. It will be Jeep’s most international model to date.

Mr Allen was quick to add that while the new Compass is meant to evoke class and quality with its so-called “sculptural design with a wide stance and exceptional glass-to-wheel proportions”, the long-standing brand visual trademarks have to be present, to give the vehicle a bit of presence and attitude.

“It’s still a Jeep, so the iconic seven-slot grille, clamshell bonnet and trapezoidal wheel arches have to be present,” he said. “It’s what people expect from us.” To that end, the designers also sought inspiration from the Iron Man comic-book character, as well as the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird jet aircraft.

“We looked at that airplane and Tony Stark character for their humanistic/robotic vision,” he Mr Allen said. “The black mask (of the nose cone), bright work around the grille, and lower-headlight LEDs are meant to evoke the lower part of the human eyes, as part of a face.”

Jeep said every variant – the Sport, Latitude, Limited and off-road biased Trailhawk with its greater ground clearance and more masculine front-end detailing – look slightly different because they are designed to appeal to a wide range of buyers.

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