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Jeep’s Compass points to Australia

Announcement pending: Jeep's refreshed compact Compass off-roader may make its way to Australia.

Classier Compass likely to rejoin Jeep range Down Under as facelifted Patriot looms

Jeep logo11 Apr 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

OFF-ROAD specialist Jeep has announced that its updated Compass compact SUV will go on sale in the UK this month, paving the way for other right-hand drive markets including Australia.

Chrysler Group Australia’s senior manager for marketing and corporate communications Dean Bonthorne told GoAuto to expect an announcement about the Compass later this week.

Chrysler Australia dropped the slow-selling Compass from its range in 2009 but retained the closely-related entry level Patriot – a facelifted version of which Mr Bonthorne said will arrive Down Under within the next couple of months.

“A refreshed variant of Patriot should be with us some time later in Q2,” he said.

If the Compass does make it to Australia this year, it will bring the number of new or revised Jeeps in 2011 to four, accompanying the new Grand Cherokee and updated Wrangler as well as the facelifted Patriot.

Jeep sales are up 15.4 per cent so far this year, fuelled by a leap in registrations of the new Grand Cherokee, while the Patriot and Wrangler are down 9.8 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively.

9 center imageFrom top: Current Jeep Patriot, Jeep Wrangler Blue Crush, Mopar Dodge Charger.

The redesigned Compass, which made its world debut at Detroit in January, is more clearly positioned above the Patriot – with higher equipment levels and front-end styling resembling that of the recently revised Grand Cherokee flagship.

As GoAuto reported at the time of the Detroit show, Chrysler believes that the Jeep range now has room for the revised Compass.

The UK-spec Compass will be available in all-wheel drive or fuel-saving and more affordable front-drive configurations, which the brand believes will enable it to reach out to “hatchback drivers who want to trade up” while offering a “credible 4x4 to buyers who are downsizing from larger models”.

Jeep has upgraded Compass interiors with a full complement of airbags, active head restraints, higher quality materials, chrome accents, LED backlighting for instruments, leather-bound handbrake and rake-adjustable steering wheel – which incorporates controls for audio, telephone and cruise – plus backlit switches for the door handles and locks.

The drivetrain choices on UK models include a 2.2-litre four-cylinder Mercedes-sourced diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission and available in 98kW front-drive or 118kW all-wheel drive tune.

Chrysler petrol engines in 2.0-litre (with five-speed manual and front-wheel drive) or 2.4-litre capacities (with CVT auto and all-wheel drive) complete the engine line-up.

The Compass is rated to tow 2000kg regardless of drivetrain.

Jeep claims the Compass can be competent “in the rough” regardless of drivetrain choice, with up to 209mm of ground clearance, a 279mm wading depth, 20-degree approach and breakover angles and a 32-degree departure angle.

Higher spring and damping rates, added rebound springs and a larger diameter rear anti-roll bar are said to improve refinement and ride quality, assisted by safety gadgets including electronic roll mitigation, electronic stability control and (for manual transmission variants) hill start assist.

The next Compass will be a product of Chrysler’s alliance with Fiat, based on the Compact platform that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The Italian connection is also tipped to bear a smaller Fiat-based luxury crossover to rival the Mini Countryman.

While the Compass points to suburban usage, at the other end of the spectrum Jeep will be showcasing seven ‘Moparised’ models at this year’s Moab Easter Jeep Safari, demonstrating the possibilities available with products from Chrysler Group’s aftermarket brand.

One of the more extreme entries is the Jeep Wrangler Blue Crush that is powered by a 397kW 7.0-litre Hemi V8 and features – among numerous off-road accessories – a full Baja-style cage, race seats, high-lift suspension and enormous 39-inch tyres.

Mopar has also released a sketch of a modified Dodge Charger, likely to be unveiled at the New York show later this month.

Though no details were supplied, Mopar president and CEO Pietro Gorlier said: “After the success of our Mopar ’10 Challenger, we moved on to the iconic Dodge Charger and added even more performance.”

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