Under the skin, however, there are similarities. Both vehicles are based upon Jeep’s ‘small-wide architecture’, extended for use in the Compass to give an overall vehicle length of 4394mm and a wheelbase of 2636mm.
The Compass’s bluff front end and the manner in which the falling roofline meets the tapering glasshouse at the rear seem a little bit Evoque-y (Evoqative?) to our eyes. However, the seven-bar grille, squared-off wheel arches and a broad stance make give the Compass a rather butch appearance.
We’re less convinced by the brightwork that runs along the top of the windows into the tailgate on our Limited-spec model, or the wide C-pillars that serve little purpose except to reduce rear visibility for the driver, but it’s certainly sharply dressed enough to fit in with its European rivals on the school run or the weekend trip to Centre Parcs.
In the cabin there’s plenty of space, particularly in terms of headroom. The driving position is fine, with good seat and steering adjustability and it doesn’t feel cramped in here at all. Inside, the Compass feels in the middle of the pack in all respects, as a seats-up luggage capacity of 438 litres attests - that capacity isn’t close to the best in class, but it is far from the worst either.
The latest iteration of Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment system takes centre stage on the dashboard. It’s the first of the brand’s cars to get the fourth-generation system and on high-spec cars such as this Limited variant you get an 8.4in touchscreen, which responded swiftly to pushes, prods and ‘pinch and zoom’ commands. The presentation of the satnav maps is fairly simple, which is actually no bad thing when it comes to legibility while on the move. The virtual buttons for the main commands at the base of the screen could be a bit larger for this very reason, though.
Mind you, rather than sweep all the switchgear on to the touchscreen and go for the minimalist cabin look that’s all the rage, though, Jeep has retained plenty of those old-fangled buttons and switches for the key controls, which we don’t mind one bit.
What’s less enthralling is the layout of the switchgear on the lower section of the centre console. When you’re focused on the road ahead, it isn’t particularly easy to intuitively reach down to adjust the heating fans, because there are a lot of switches and dials gathered there in a not-altogether sensible order.
The Uconnect system can be hooked up to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. But while the USB connectivity port is in a prominent position in front of the gear lever, there isn’t an obvious space adjacent to it in which to place your smartphone, raising the prospect of having trailing wires cluttering the cabin, unless you have one of those aftermarket ’phone plinths favoured by travelling salesmen and minicab drivers.
This most powerful diesel iteration of the Compass produces 168bhp and 280b ft, sending that power to the all four wheels (when required) via a nine-speed automatic transmission. Jeep claims a kerb weight of 1540kg for the Compass, but this derivative, with its diesel engine and that four-wheel drive system, feels more sluggish than its claimed 9.5sec time for the 0-62mph sprint when you accelerate away from a standstill.
The nine-speed automatic gearbox, developed in conjunction with ZF, works well on the whole, although if it is called upon to make quick downshifts it can feel a little jerky. There are no steering-wheel mounted paddles should you wish to change gear yourself, although you can knock the gear shifter to the left and use it. On two isolated occasions during our test drive the ’box went hunting for a gear unexpectedly, while being driven on a steady throttle.