Jeep’s volume-selling crossover adopts a plug-in hybrid powertrain

This week, we’re testing an Alfa Romeo. Well, sort of.

As appealing as the Giulia and Stelvio are to the enthusiast, their bespoke Giorgio platform is just a bit too specialised and expensive for volume models; and Alfa Romeo is in desperate need of a true volume model, more specifically a posh compact crossover.

That much was clear well before Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merged with PSA to form Stellantis in January last year. And so the obvious base from which to develop said posh crossover (the Tonale, revealed last week) was the Jeep Compass. It’s the right size, it was available and an all-important plug-in hybrid powertrain was in development for it.

However, the story goes that when new Alfa Romeo CEO Jean- Philippe Imparato tried the Tonale, he wasn’t too impressed so ordered the launch date to be put back to make the car Alfa Romeo-worthy. When we tested the Jeep Compass in 2018, we gave it just three stars, so we would be inclined to agree.

In the meantime, that plug-in hybrid Compass has come to the UK, along with a facelift that’s relatively minor on the outside but rather more drastic inside.

Reassessing the Jeep Compass, here in 4xe (pronounced ‘four-by-ee’) plug-in hybrid form, therefore gives us a taste of what to expect from the forthcoming Tonale. At the same time, Jeep itself could use a strong new model, because the iconic US brand, too, has long traded on superficial charm without enough substance to make it stick for demanding British buyers.

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The Jeep Compass line-up at a glance

The Compass engine range currently includes a regular 129bhp turbo petrol at entry level and a range- topping 237bhp plug-in hybrid, but it will be fleshed out later this year with a 48V mild-hybrid petrol and a cheaper, less potent PHEV.

The trim levels are somewhat puzzlingly named: Limited sits above Night Eagle and below S, while the Trailhawk serves as the alternative, off-road-optimised range-topper.