Engine response when compared to the petrol AT is easily noticeable. Where I felt the AT variant to be slow to respond and sluggish to pedal input, the MT variant felt outright peppy and fun to drive.
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I feel I should now share my ownership experience of the 1.4 liter petrol manual sport Compass after driving it for around 300km. I will keep the review focused mostly about the car and its performance in general as my post sales and service experience has been extremely disappointing so far.
As we all know it is impossible to get a test drive of the Sport petrol manual variant, i hope my review would assist in potential buyers seeking to buy this variant.
Firstly I would say I was and still am totally hooked on the Tata Harrier XZ in terms of looks and drive quality in spite of the known niggles like quality, fit and finish and the dashboard hurting the left knee. However because of 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 petrol cars with manual transmission to choose from and I tested the XUV700, Skoda Kushaq, Kia Seltos GTX, MG hector MT. Since Jeep compass manual was not offered for test drive 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 the contenders, very responsive. However I found the quality of interior fit and finish not so good. Also the long waiting time for the AX7 was a turnoff.
- Kia Seltos 1.4 GTX: Peppy and fun to drive till the car went over some uneven roads. The worst suspension ever with the car making squeaking noises over uneven patches. This was felt even more when i sat on the back seat. I was able to press the metal with my thumb near the lock assembly when I opened the driver side door. The metal appeared very thin. That experience matched the GNCAP ratings I saw on the internet.
- Skoda Kushaq: Thoroughly enjoyed the 1.0TSI. The 1.5TSI though more powerful, for some strange reason kept stalling at low speeds. Luggage space was less and the car appeared more like a hatchback than SUV. Did not feel like value for money.
- MG Hector hybrid MT: Sluggish and under powered. Car had too much body roll.
- Jeep Compass petrol AT: Car felt reluctant to move from standstill / crawling speed in auto mode. No matter how much pedal I applied, the car took its own sweet time to gather any speed and i was unable to do any quick overtakes. Amongst all the cars the suspension and handling felt the best. However the sluggish response of the automatic gearbox was not to my liking at all.
- MG Hector CVT: Immediately after the Compass petrol AT I test drove the Hector CVT. As soon as I applied the accelerator pedal, with ever so a very small couple of seconds delay the car took off nicely and gathered speed quickly. Overall I felt the car was way peppier than the compass AT and overtakes on the Pune – Bangalore highway happened easily. However as my preference was for manual transmission Hector was dismissed.
- Compass petrol MT: SE showed me the car in their stockyard. For a base model with fabric interiors, the car was impressive in terms of the premium feel I got looking at the interiors. The fabric quality with its orange stitching felt very premium and the grey fabric insert in the dashboard and doors felt classy. The fit, finish of the plastics, steering column and dashboard was very good and did not feel cheap at all if compared to the XT+ version of the Tata harrier or Hector sharp. Booked the Sport variant in red color.
The difference in the engine response when compared to the petrol AT is easily noticeable. Where I felt the AT variant to be slow to respond and sluggish to pedal input, the manual variant felt outright peppy and fun to drive. I do not understand why Jeep does not have this manual transmission in the Limited variant. If it was, I would have upped my budget and gone for that. Gear shifts are smooth and precise and pick-up is good. However if the revs drop below 2000 RPM whilst on the move and you shift to a higher gear, there is a sudden power loss felt and it takes time for the engine to respond till the RPM needle nears the 2000 mark. Sometimes if this happens at a time you want to do quick overtakes, it becomes difficult to do so and I felt the need to shift down to lower gear, losing a precious few seconds and sometimes not able to execute the overtake. This was something I could do effortlessly in my Ford Fiesta 1.6 NA petrol car. This intermittent temporary power loss is felt in the first 3 gears only especially between 2nd and 3rd gear. 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 think if the engine was tuned to engage the turbocharger around 1500RPM or earlier the car would not feel loss of power at any point.
The AC cooling stops / reduces when the car comes to standstill at traffic lights. A soon as I apply the accelerator, the cooling resumes. In the May heat the AC is effective from a fan setting of 5 and above only.
TPMS is now available in the sport variant also. The infotainment system is responsive and the audio quality is excellent.
I love the ergonomics of the car, everything is in the right place and driver friendly. The metal quality is good, doors are heavy and shut with a nice heavy thud. Overall the car feels built like a tank.
Suspension is excellent and simply devours bad surfaces. I felt the steering to be on the stiff heavier side and this is noticeable at slow speeds. However at high speeds this is actually very good, in that the feedback is perfect.
A very quick description of the after sales/service experience:
The car I received came with an inherent paint flaw which I failed to notice while inspecting the vehicle in the stockyard. Almost on every panel there were bubbles in the paint as if residual debris on the car was painted over leaving small bubble like bumps. These are not easily noticeable unless one looks at every minute detail. I got the delivery of the car in middle of May 2022 and the VIN indicates manufacturing date as April 2022. As soon as I made the full payment, I got a message from the dealer that a different car has been allotted to me than the one I was promised before payment. They took me back to the stockyard to show the newly allotted car so my suspicions were sort of hushed. Fearing I was being given an older car, all my concentration was checking for paint shade difference and VIN (which was April 2022). The car was delivered with a slight scratch on the front left bumper which they agreed to rectify and took the car away two days after delivery. When the car was returned, the bumper was painted so poorly that even a road side novice with a spray paint can could do a better job. That made me check the rest of the car and that’s when i noticed the bubbles. Dealer insisted to fix the paint issue in the service center so I took the car again myself over there. While I was discussing the issue with the CRM, I saw that a large crowd had gathered around my car. Fearing that some one dashed my car, I ran out only to find that their service staff, without my permission had removed my front left wheel and was in the process of ripping out the black mudguard cladding, trying to access the foot well area on the passenger side. After escalating this issue, they stopped and said, ” Sir we forgot your keys in the car and the car is locked. Due to this we cannot move your car and other customers cars are all stuck right up to the main road”. Apparently they were trying to access a lock reset button in the foot well area. I made them stop the activity, got their driver to take me back home and went back with him to the service center with the 2nd key. I have escalated the issue to FCA India as the dealer response has been very elusive and disappointing. I certainly won’t be taking the car there for servicing. The space is crammed up, service staff is arrogant and unprofessional. One word of advice to future buyers: Insist, absolutely insist on filling up the registration form, especially the chassis and engine number and take a photo of the same.
The car as a product itself is amazing and fun to drive. However the sales and service is pathetic, dishonest and incompetent. This experience has taken away what could have otherwise been a happy buying experience.
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