My Jeep Compass petrol MT: Good car, but bad after sales experience

The response of the engine compared to petrol AT is easy to notice. Where I felt the AT variant was slow to respond and sluggish with pedal input, the MT variant felt instantly peppy and fun to drive.

BHPian angry officer recently shared this with fellow enthusiasts.

I feel I should now share my ownership experience of the 1.4 liter petrol manual sports compass after driving it for about 300 km. I will keep the review focused mostly on the car and its performance in general as my after sales and service experience has been extremely disappointing so far.

As we all know it is impossible to get a test drive of Sport petrol manual variant, I hope my review would help potential buyers who want to buy this variant.

Firstly, I would say that I was and still am completely stuck on the Tata Harrier XZ in terms of looks and ride quality despite the known niggles like quality, fit and finish and the left knee hurting dashboard. However, due to the uncertainty of the future of diesel engines and possible DPF issues, I decided to skip diesel vehicles all together. That left me with only manual transmission petrol cars to choose from and I tested the XUV700, Skoda Kushaq, Kia Seltos GTX, MG hector MT. As the Jeep Compass manual was not offered for test driving, I test drove the AT petrol and also tried the Hector CVT back to back with the AT petrol Compass.

  • Mahindra XUV700: Most powerful among all contenders, very responsive. However, I found the quality of interior fit and finish to be not so good. Also the long wait time for the AX7 was a turn off.
  • Kia Seltos 1.4 GTX: Peppy and fun to drive until the car went over some rough roads. The worst suspension ever with the car making screeching noises over rough patches. This was felt even more when I was sitting in the back seat. I could press the metal with my thumb near the latch assembly when I opened the driver’s side door. The metal seemed very thin. That experience matched the GNCAP ratings I saw on the internet.
  • Skoda Octavia: Really enjoyed the 1.0TSI. 1.5TSI but more powerful, for some strange reason kept stalling at low speeds. The trunk was smaller and the car appeared more like a hatchback than an SUV. Didn’t feel like value for money.
  • MG Hector hybrid MT: Sluggish and underpowered. The car had too much body roll.
  • Jeep Compass petrol AT: The car felt reluctant to move from a standstill/crawling speed in auto mode. No matter how hard I pedaled, the car took its own time to get up to speed and I couldn’t do any quick overtakes. Among all the cars, the suspension and handling felt the best. However, the sluggish response from the automatic transmission was not at all to my taste.
  • MG Hector CVT: Immediately after the Compass petrol AT I test drove the Hector CVT. As soon as I stepped on the gas pedal, with a delay of a couple of seconds, the car took off well and accelerated quickly. Overall, I felt the car was much more peppy than the Compass AT and overtaking on the Pune – Bangalore highway was done with ease. However, as I prefer a manual transmission, the Hector was dismissed.
  • Compass petrol MT: SE showed me the car at their warehouse. For a base model with a cloth interior, the car was impressive in terms of the premium feeling I got when looking at the interior. The fabric quality with its orange seams felt very premium and the gray fabric insert in the dashboard and doors felt stylish. The fit, finish of the plastics, steering column and dash was very good and didn’t feel cheap at all when compared to the XT+ version of Tata harrier or Hector sharp. Booked the Sport variant in red.

The difference in engine response compared to petrol AT is easy to notice. Where I felt the AT variant was slow to respond and sluggish with pedal input, the manual variant felt instantly peppy and fun to drive. I don’t understand why Jeep doesn’t have this manual transmission in the Limited variant. If it was, I would have raised my budget and gone for it. The shifts are smooth and precise and the take-up is good. However, if the rpm drops below 2000 RPM while in motion and you shift into a higher gear, a sudden loss of power is detected and the engine takes time to react until the RPM needle approaches the 2000 mark. Sometimes if this happens at a time when you want to do quick overtakes, it becomes difficult to do so and I felt the need to downshift, lose a few precious seconds and sometimes not be able to complete the overtake. This was something I could do effortlessly in my Ford Fiesta 1.6 NA petrol car. This intermittent temporary loss of power is only noticeable in the first 3 gears, especially between 2nd and 3rd gears. As mentioned by other owners of the same variant, the 1st gear is very short and changing to 2nd gear is necessary as soon as the car is in motion. I believe that if the engine was tuned to engage the turbo around 1500 RPM or earlier, the car would not feel a loss of power at any point.

The AC cooling stops/reduces when the car is stationary at traffic lights. As soon as I press the accelerator the cooling resumes. In the heat of May, the AC is only effective from a fan setting of 5 and up.

TPMS is now also available in the sport version. The infotainment system is responsive and the sound quality is excellent.

I love the ergonomics of the car, everything is in the right place and driver-friendly. The metal quality is good, the doors are heavy and close with a nice heavy thud. Overall, the car feels built like a tank.

The suspension is excellent and simply devours bad surfaces. I felt the steering was on the stiff heavier side and this is noticeable at low speeds. But at high speeds this is actually very good, as the feedback is perfect.

A very quick description of the after sales/service experience:

The car I received came with an inherent paint defect that I didn’t notice when I inspected the vehicle at the warehouse. On almost every panel there were bubbles in the paint as if the remaining debris on the car was painted over leaving little bubbles like bumps. These are not easy to notice unless you look at the smallest detail. I took delivery of the car in mid May 2022 and the VIN shows the date of manufacture as April 2022. As soon as I made the full payment I received a message from the dealer that a different car has been allocated to me than that one. I was promised before payment. They took me back to the warehouse to show the newly assigned car so my suspicions were sort of put to rest. Being afraid that I would get an older car, all my concentration was to check for difference in color shade and VIN (which was April 2022). The car was delivered with a small scratch on the front left bumper which they agreed to fix and removed the car two days after delivery. When the car was returned, the bumper was so poorly painted that even a roadside novice with a spray can could do a better job. That made me check the rest of the car and that’s when I noticed the bubbles. The dealer insisted on fixing the paint problem at the service center so I took the car back over there myself. While discussing the matter with CRM, I saw that a large crowd had gathered around my car. Afraid of someone wrecking my car, I ran out only to find that their service crew had removed my front left wheel without my permission and were ripping out the black fender liner trying to access the passenger side footwell area. After escalating this problem, they stopped and said, “Sir we forgot your keys in the car and the car is locked. Because of this we can’t move your car and other customers’ cars are all stuck all the way to the main road”. Apparently they were trying to access a lock reset button in the foot well area. I got them to cancel the activity, got their driver to take me home and went back with him to the service center with the other key. I have escalated the matter to FCA India as the dealer response has been very elusive and disappointing. I will definitely not take the car there for service. The space is cramped, the service staff is arrogant and unprofessional. A word of advice to future buyers: Insist, absolutely insist on filling in the registration form, especially the chassis and engine number and take a photo of the same.

The car as a product in itself is fantastic and fun to drive. But the sales and service is pathetic, dishonest and incompetent. This experience has taken away from what could have otherwise been a happy shopping experience.

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