There's no doubt that the Jeep Compass has been the star for FCA in India. It's consistently been bringing in the sales and even today nearly 2 years after its launch continues to sell 1250 units a month in the country; of course the exports are a whole different ball game, but the capacity at the Ranjangaon Plant is being utilised to the fullest. With new variant and special edition updates, Jeep India has been pumping in life into the Compass but the rising competition in that segment (with two more players coming into the scene very soon) has had Jeep take a stride with the Compass and the only way to deal with competition is to pull out its trump card. This time around it's another variant, one that we exclusively drove back in 2017 and brought you details about; but one which has been the most anticipated of cars from the Jeep stable. It's called the Compass Trailhawk and though it might look like the Compass compact SUV, it's a wolf in sheep's clothing.
The Trailhawk is the most rugged Compass you can buy and at first glance it might look like the regular compact SUV, but a closer inspection reveals otherwise. The obvious distinguisher is the 'Trailhawk' badge at the rear, but up front, it also gets a black decal on the bonnet which is anti-glare and it comes in very handy especially if you're driving on an incline. It also has a badge which reads 'Trail Rated'; now many of you might not get the significance of this but to explain it plainly, it's a stamp of recognition of the Trailhawk's off-road abilities. Then there are a 17-inch Falken all terrain tyres and one look at them and you see that the gap between the squared wheelarches and the tyres has grown which points out to the fact that the car sits higher too. Yes, the ground clearance is up by 27 mm and now stands 205 mm above the ground, which comes in very handy when tackling obstacles off-road. The only thing missing is the tow hook up front and that's been removed to adhere to India's pedestrian safety norms, which say that there have to be no protrusions up front.
Also Read: Jeep Compass Trailhawk: All You Need To Know
There's another change up front and at the rear. Both the bumpers have been reshaped to allow for better approach and departure angles. The 26.5 degrees approach, 21.2 degrees break over and 31.6 degrees departure angles allow the Trailhawk to 'climb every mountain' - quite literally. We had an obstacle course laid out for us to demonstrate this very aspect. But climbing requires power and yes, it's got that too. The Compass Trailhawk gets a 2-litre Multijet II diesel engine which is a BS6 compliant powertrain and yes it can be run on BS4 fuel too. The motor churns out 168 bhp and there's 350 Nm of torque which kicks in as early as 1700 rpm but the delivery is linear. In fact, the engine sound is muffled too and there's more refinement than before and that's a big thumbs up.
What is new though is the mechanically lockable 4WD system which calculates the exact power which needs to be sent to the required wheel. It took a couple of seconds to figure it out though and that's a good thing yes. An addition to the Select-Terrain system is a 4WD Low setting and a Rock mode as well.
So let's get to it then. How does it drive, where's it's meant to be driven? The off-road course charted out for us, was no walk in the park. There were some serious inclines, descents, rocky pathways and even a water crossing, all of which were to be tackled and instructions poured as to how to go about changing the settings. While things started in Auto mode on the Selec-Terrain system, and we were pleasantly surprised how well it did even on tricky surfaces like loose mud while engaged in Auto mode. Things gradually got a little more difficult and it's on these bits that we engaged 4WD Low range and rock mode, and the Compass just jumped across to the other end of the course.
Of course, you have to take things slow when it comes to off-roading but clearly, the Compass Trailhawk had everything sorted. The 20:1 crawl ratio really does give the Trailhawk a significant advantage and the ability to climb like no other car in the segment. And the 9-speed automatic really shines out here too, providing power continuously to the wheels and making sure the torque delivery takes you where you want to go.
The course was a cakewalk for the Trailhawk and were some folks from Jeep India who wondered if the course was truly challenging. The Compass Trailhawk's small size and the improvised approach and departure angles makes it easier to manoeuvre and yes, it comes in very handy during steep ascents and descents.
While the Trailhawk's got the ability to 'climb every mountain' like a stabbed squirrel, how does it fair on the mundane acts of driving on tarmac? Well, the suspension of the Compass was already pretty good and the Trailhawk's has been reworked, but the basis of it all is still the same. The reworked suspension handles the revised ride height pretty well and it feels pretty good on tarmac too. The bumps on the road are handled with ease but yes, there's a bit of kickback from the suspension on the big one's you encounter. It feels better damped now and vertical and horizontal movements are in check. I have to talk about the 9-speed gearbox here though, because most will tell you it's a gearbox sourced from ZF, which is technically right because the design is sourced from ZF, but the transmission itself has been made in-house. The 9-speed torque convertor shows a hint of lag and we would have loved it to be more responsive, but the gears shift seamlessly and that's a big take away.
While all of it sounds very promising, the feature list on the Trailhawk is a tad disappointing. Considering it sits right on top of the Compass range, it misses out on some key features. These include, powered seats, auto headlamps and wipers. But it continues to come with a panoramic sunroof, an 8.4-inch infotainment system with Apple Carplay and then there's the all black cabin with the sporty looking red stitching; all of which suits the character of the Compass Trailhawk and of course, there are the easter eggs that we found - a lizard, a Willy's Jeep and even the Lochness monster.
Now, to answer the big one, should you buy one? Frankly, it's not going to be cheap and will be priced somewhere around ₹ 25 lakh (ex-showroom), so yes, you have to dig deep into your pockets to buy one; but if you take to off-roading like fish to water, then yes, this one should be your pick. There are others more capable, yes, but thrilling? No. There are very few cars that come close to what the Trailhawk has to offer but as an overall package, it's hard to find a perfect match.