1,280 km of shifting sand, extreme temperatures and dust storms. This is the story of an epic drive through a subtropical desert
Published on March 22, 2022 15:57:00
As far as challenges go, this one was right up there. Earlier this month, the Jeep Compass Trailhawk took on the vast Indian desert and won. It thus became India’s first production SUV to cross the vast Indian desert in one sweep without hitting any asphalt.
Dry, stark and desolate were adjectives that came to mind at the first glimpse of the forbidding desert landscape that stood between the Trailhawk and its record-breaking ride. The route involved 1,280 kilometers of terrifying, harsh terrain from Alsisar, Rajasthan, to Kutch, Gujarat. The mission? To showcase the ruggedness and capability of the Jeep Compass Trailhawk as it navigated the harsh terrain of the desert – without touching the asphalt – and endured extreme climatic conditions.
Abhimanyu Alsisar, the prince of Alsisar, a small town near Jhunjhunu, in Rajasthan, piloted the Trailhawk and guided it through the 72-hour journey. “I was born in the desert and I am a son of this soil. My family has been here since 1757 and I know this country like the back of my neck. My connection with Jeep is really special, because I have driven Jeeps all my life. So this expedition was a dream come true for me, says Alsisar.
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk started its expedition and traveled through Alsisar, Bikaner, Dhani, Army Dunes, Little Rann, Kala Dungar, Virgin Dunes, Barmer, Jaisalmer and Rann of Kutch. It wasn’t easy, of course. But pushing the boundaries is something the Jeep brand is no stranger to, and the new Compass Trailhawk continues to live up to its claim.
Jeep Compass Trailhawk: Go anywhere, do anything
Over three days, the Trailhawk took every challenge the route threw in its stride: these involved uncharted trails, extreme weather conditions and some of the most brutal terrain the great Indian desert had to offer. The temperature would reach a peak of 40°C during the day and drop to near freezing at night. But the Compass Trailhawk managed effortlessly, thanks to its unique characteristics as the first in the segment “Rock Mode” (AWD). With low speeds and evenly distributed torque, the mode allows for more spin to help take over anything in its path.
The Trailhawk’s several other distinguishing features, designed for optimal off-road performance, played a crucial role in ensuring the vehicle conquered the vast Indian desert without breaking a sweat. The bumpers on the Compass Trailhawk differ from those on the standard Jeep Compass, allowing for superior approach and departure angles. With a turning radius of 5.7 m, the SUV is equipped with 225/65R17 all-season tires that provide better grip on a variety of terrains, including sand, mud, snow and even rocks.
Despite the grueling conditions, dust and extreme temperatures, Abhimanyu Alsisar enjoyed this trip, thanks to the unparalleled comfort and convenience offered by the SUV. The Compass Trailhawk’s interiors include premium black leather and an array of goodies to keep you snug and comfortable whether you’re driving rush hour or, in this case, crossing a desert. The SUV’s capabilities meant that Alsisar never doubted how the expedition would go. “Crossing the great Indian desert is no joke. It’s unpredictable and you can easily get lost. But the compass made the trip very comfortable. Its Selec-Terrain steering wheel provided best-in-class off-road capability with the option of four driving modes – Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock that helped tackle the terrain effortlessly,” added Abhimanyu Alsisar.
“The most fascinating aspect of this expedition was watching the Jeep Compass Trailhawk navigate through all weather, environmental obstacles and overcome large and huge sand dunes. The Jeep Compass Trailhawk is the newest member of the Jeep family, and we are very proud of it,” said Roland Bouchara, CEO and Managing Director of Stellantis India.
Trail Rated: superiority in off-road capability
What makes the Trailhawk really special is that it has the ‘Trail Rated’ badge – a badge reserved only for the most off-road capable models in the Jeep range. And before earning a “Trail Rated” badge, each Jeep model is pushed to the limits to test its performance in five key areas – traction, water handling, maneuverability, articulation and ground clearance. Only when a Jeep model has passed all tests with flying colors can it claim to be among the most capable production off-road models on the market.
Commenting on the exhilarating adventure of the Trailhawk across the vast Indian desert, Nipun J Mahajan, Head of Jeep Brand India said, “Compass Trailhawk represents the core DNA of the Jeep brand: an insatiable thirst to explore and embark on exhilarating adventures and in this case, the SUV didn’t cross the tarmac even once. With the challenges we threw at the Jeep Compass Trailhawk, it cemented itself as a confident off-road SUV. The Jeep Compass Trailhawk is a versatile ‘Trail Rated’ variant of the Compass just as capable for on-road and off-road adventures.”
Jeep has a long history of conquering deserts, dating back to the days of the Desert Rats – the 7th Armored Division of the British Army used Jeeps in their heroic campaigns in the African desert during World War II, and the Compass Trailhawk carries on that legacy admirably.
In many ways, the conquest of the great Indian desert by the new Compass Trailhawk was yet another reminder of Jeep’s adventurous genes. This is the brand that invented the SUV way back in the 1940s, and has since constantly innovated and pushed the boundaries of off-road driving. It has come to embody the very essence of freedom, the spirit of adventure and the ability to overcome any obstacle.
Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.