Upgraded from decade-old Fiat Punto to Jeep Compass: Ownership review

I had considered many cars, of which there were a couple of serious contenders and 2 canceled pre-bookings – Mahindra XUV300 2019 and Volkswagen Taigun 2021.

BHPian crazy driver recently shared this with fellow enthusiasts.

At the time of publishing this report, our compass has covered ~1 month and 4000 km. The first impressions below will be updated and relevant links included in the glossary during different stages of the ownership experience.

What we like

  • Worth the asking price. Feels built to international standards, uncompromising for India!
  • Strong suite of safety features: Six airbags, disc brakes on all wheels, TCS, ESC, ABS with EBD, RBS, Rollover Mitigation, HSA, Dynamic Steering Torque, etc.
  • 2.0L Multijet II engine produces 170 hp and 350 Nm in combination with a good 6-speed manual gearbox. Provides fast performance and easy operability
  • Diesel FE!
  • Timeless (subjective!) exterior design and proportions – now even better with the facelift
  • The interior! Beautiful artificial leather white and brown interiors provide a nice contrast to the dark blue exterior shade
  • Spacious, airy and practical cabin for four
  • Thick sheet metal, tough construction and high seats give that “tank-like” feeling
  • Color quality deserves a special mention! The blue tint and finish wouldn’t look out of place on a Beemer. Excellent color choices otherwise too!
  • Independent suspension setup with Koni FSD provides mature ride quality and rock-solid stability on the highways
  • Nicely tuned EPS is easy at parking lot speeds and communicative on the highways
  • Excellent mile muncher. Can do day long road trips with ease
  • Features – Dual Window Panoramic Sunroof, 8-Way Power Driver’s Seat with Memory Function, 10.1-Inch Touchscreen with Wireless Android Auto & Apple CarPlay, Dual Zone Climate Control with Rear Air Vents, Connectivity Suite with Features, Power Tailgate, Auto Headlights, IRVM & Wiper, LED- headlights with DRL, LED fog lights, 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, electronic parking brake, reverse parking camera, sun visor, TPMS, keyless entry, etc.
  • Excellent dealer experience

Which we don’t mind, but may be missing for you

  • Compact size (compared to XUV7OO/Harrier/Safari) – Compass was actually at the higher end of our budget and (parking) size constraints
  • The same comment applies to the seating comfort of the 5th passenger, or a missing third row of seats
  • Some missing features like wireless charging, fully digital instrument cluster, etc (available on Model S) – don’t miss them personally
  • Hard-kept white interiors. In fact, I prefer it and think the cabin looks very exclusive compared to the all-black, top-of-the-line S model
  • The Connectivity Suite is not comprehensive as in Hyundai-Kia cars. Again, nothing I care about, personally. The same applies to ADAS
  • Known devil – The service network. Having lived with a Punto for 10 years/2.06 L km without any problems, I hope the experience remains the same.

What we don’t like

  • The Indian version has not been crash rated. Hopefully no shocking revelations await!
  • A Jeep without 4*4! Diesel AWD AT was ~5L way more expensive and way out of my budget
  • The excellent overall build quality has a couple of weak links. There is the occasional squeak or rattle in the cabin
  • Some of the modern “assist” features are intrusive and annoying – Autostart-stop, HSA and the obligatory speed reminders!
  • Cruise control (only available on AT variants!) will be missing
  • 18-inch wheels provide stiff ride quality at lower speeds. Feels like a sorted vehicle with a ladder frame inside the city
  • Dummy buttons galore – even on the key! Ridiculous IMHO, given the asking price
  • Missing features like 360 ​​camera, ventilated seats, power passenger seat, etc, are only available on Model-S and Trailhawk variants. Front parking sensors are also missing!
  • Nice, but still technically mediocre, unbranded 6-speaker sound system.
  • High GC and wide door sills make it difficult for parents (who, however, mainly use our Hyundai Xcent). The low hanging aero lip compromises the high GC!

Index

The story of Punto

As some of you know, the Compass replaces my FIAT Punto which was sold in March, after being part of the family for 10 years & 2.06L km. Full owner report here.

To summarize – a beautiful machine that taught me about mechanical competence, ride/handling/steering ability, build quality and even reliability! The service support, although the weakest link, was also never a problem – even though I had sometimes traveled ~400km for service. Just one day’s inconvenience for 364 days of fun!

Where it felt extremely dated at the end of those 10 years was when it came to the interior and features.

Why FCA again? Why Jeep Compass?

“When in doubt, be fooled. There’s a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.’ – Cynthia Heimel

Contrary to what many would expect – it was not a natural transition from the Punto to the Compass. Agree, I’ve always wanted one – but then budget constraints always kept it on the wish list. In the meantime – I had considered a whole range of products that could replace the Punto.

In recent years, we have been thinking about:

  • Mahindra Thar
  • Mahindra XUV 3OO
  • Mahindra XUV 5OO/7O
  • TATA Nexon
  • TATA Harrier Dark Edition
  • Kia Seltos D AT
  • Skoda Kushaq
  • Skoda Slavia
  • 5th generation Honda City Petrol
  • Volkswagen Taigun

Of which there were a couple of serious contenders, and two canceled pre-bookings – Mahindra XUV 3OO 2019 and Volkswagen Taigun 2021.

XUV 3OO (cancelled) pre-booking – February 2019

Reason for pre-booking:

Saw the XUV 3OO at Phoenix Market City Mall in Bangalore yesterday and checked it out. Will let the pictures do the talking – (engine is the elusive 1.2 turbo petrol).

However, the day ended with a major twist – a disinterested better half was converted by the product, in a way that only Compass has done before – and we ended up pre-booking the W8(O) variant. 7 airbags, ESP, Steering modes, 300Nm of torque, good build quality, sunroof, cruise control – all in a small footprint of a sub-4m product, it all sounds very interesting – but I still have a big lump in my throat when it even comes to thinking about parting with Punto.

Will make a final decision after the price is announced and after test drives.

Reason for cancellation:

The product is excellent in the sub 4m space, and IMHO – If I have to choose a sub 4m product right now, I will still go with the XUV 3OO. It’s fun to drive, feature-laden, safety-laden, premium, spacious and what not – maybe everything except practicality and now VFM. Ecosport is almost there too, but it’s so old – I don’t get excited anymore.

That said – I’m neither strictly limited to sub-4m, nor am I in desperate need of a new vehicle, so I decided to listen to my gut and just wait a year. BS6 should be sorted by then, a buffet of new products will be out (Kia SP, New Creta, New Ecosport, new XUV 5OO, Hyundai Carlino, MG Hector etc, basically what feels like it can keep me excited and happy about next 10 years, maybe even new Thar if they manage to chisel some rough edges to have it as the single car in the family) and I could enjoy the loan free period for another year while saving up for a down payment on something nicer.

Mahindra probably would have made the deal if the pricing was perfect – but for now I’ll have to wish them better luck next time and move on.

Troll credit: KarthikK

Taigun (cancelled) pre-booking – August 2021

The original reason for pre-booking:

I will vote for the Taigun because of the interior as well. Kushaq feels a bit sad and gloomy IMHO – the gray with black is the reason. You really don’t feel like sitting in a 20L car. Skoda should have chosen all black, or black with beige.

The Taigun has the same gray parts, but the lighter painted shades and seats lift it up a bit. The difference may not be drastic, but enough to not be a deal-breaker anymore.

In fact, I may have put my money where my mouth is.

PS: Don’t be surprised with the Kushaq pictures on a Taigun post. I attended the Taigun Media Drive and canceled before the official launch, so all my personal requirements like parking were tested with Kushaq instead!

Reason for cancellation:

Skoda Kushaq breakdowns and concerns about a new VAG product! There are at least half a dozen Kushaq owners who have reported breakdowns (see the Kushaq review thread or visit the Skoda Kushaq club page on FB), EPC warnings and power cut issues within just 2000km of delivery. Preparing for the transmission to break a few times in 10 years is one thing, expecting to grind on a brand new car is another – but going in with a mindset expecting the new vehicle to break within it the first month is something else.

Guess that’s the most basic expectation when someone buys a new car? To run without getting stranded on the road. Already a big leap of faith with friends and family advising against the gearbox! Zac says this is normal, they are working to get the cars back on the road and the number of breakdowns is less than expected for a new launch. Strangely enough – this despite high prices and fewer features in the name of superior Euro quality! And VW has no Zac Hollis for owners to reach out to.

Is this the end of Taigun for me? Do not know. But not sure about taking the first batch either! Anyway will take the wife to see the car when it hits the showrooms and if it doesn’t make her fall in love (and me at the price) – will re-evaluate the Jan-Feb purchase. Hope VW learns from Skoda before then – maybe they have already learned and will correct it before launch. Not sure if I want to find out the hard way! Thankfully no rush due to ongoing WFH situation.

PS: Even the Compass facelift may have some good offers at the turn of the year.

Good. With such high volumes – they won’t miss one!

With another half dozen cars (the Kushaq thread has details) reporting breakdowns over the weekend – some for the second time even, I went ahead and released the cancellation email today.

No point waiting for the launch as I’m now 100% sure I won’t be spending my hard earned money on this car for at least another six months – no matter how well (or badly) they price it.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well!

Continue reading CrazY Driver’s Owner Experience for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

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