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Camp Jeep: Off-road Saturday

After a week of grind and grinding the keyboard keys and other turmoils that happen during an average week, what do you do when you get a call from Jeep to drive their vehicles the way they are meant to be: off,very off the road? Sprout a smile, say yes.

Jeep Camp Pune 2018

So here’s what its all about:

You drive the Jeep portfolio in their natural habitat and explore the vehicle to its limits. The folks at Jeep had chosen a hilly section at Wagholi , near Dhole Patil College of Engineering. The chosen track was a mix of all bits necessary for a good off-road drive: sharp assents, sudden drops, rocks, mud, slippery climbs. All of it was a natural setup though, carefully picked by the experts for us to have a good time.

Jeep currently have the Grand Cherokee, the iconic Wrangler and the recently launched Compass for sale in India, and we were supposed to drive these. Here’s how it went:

Jeep Compass

The Compass is a surprisingly capable vehicle, which can hang around with seasoned SUVs on bad terrain

Its the newest entrant from Jeep to the Indian market and the smallest one here among the aforementioned trio. The one we drove had the 2 litre Multijet II  diesel, mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. Weighed in at close to 1600 kg, the Compass has the right ingredients to frisk around where we were going to take it to.

As the Compass was the first vehicle we were driving there, there was a little idea as to what the track ahead was going to be. And upon getting there, the terrain seemed a bit of a challenge to the Compass. Holding the doubt in mind, as we proceeded as per instructions given by our guide, the Compass shows its true Jeep roots. Even on descents close to, or maybe more than 45 degree, the Compass stays composed and acts well on the inputs from the driver. The 206 mm ground clearance comes in handy here and the Compass climbs over pretty much everything the terrain threw at it without a scrape. Most of the owners won’t be taking there vehicles to such terrain but if need be, the Compass can be a serious little (relatively little) off-roader. It has the steering feedback needed here, the right steering weight and the right pedal feel that makes it easy for the driver to explore the limits.

 

The Compass came in as a surprise with its capablities, for which we’d like to rank it the highest here in terms of being fun to drive.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

2.5 tonnes of leather, metal, chrome and luxuries clambering down crazy angles

The Grand Cherokee is the vehicle with which Jeep entered India back in 2016. Its a luxury SUV made to carry 5 people in utmost comfort at a brisk pace. The one we drove had a 3 litre V6 mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, developing 240 PS and 570 NM of torque. At close to 2400 kg, this is one heavy vehicle. It gets Jeep’s Selec-Terrain Traction Control system to assist in tricky terrains. This controls the Electronic Limited Slip Differential that the Grand Cherokee gets.

Sitting high up in the Grand Cherokee, in its luxurious leather seats, you get a sense that this vehicle is more of a highway hauler. Nevertheless, its a Jeep. By selecting the appropriate mode(Rocks/Gravel/Snow?Mud)  on the touch screen, the traction control works well to keep the vehicle moving when the going gets hard. You can of course feel the traction control grabbing the brakes to keep the vehicle in control. Gentle throttle inputs and brake it right and you see the Grand Cherokee take on the terrain in its stride. Mind you, it rides on 20 inch alloy wheels, given its luxury SUV tag. The ride is very plush and the Grand Cherokee keeps being a luxury SUV even off the road,into nowhere.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

O|||||||O legendary stuff…

Is it needed to be said as to how iconic the Wrangler is? Do the rounds of internet for offroading blogs and pages and you discover that the Wrangler holds a coveted place in the offroader ranks.

It was also the hot favorite among the visitors here at Jeep Camp, having a long waiting list for the drive. Alas, we couldn’t have a go in it given the sun setting down and people still queuing up for the rid in the Wrangler.

Of course, we all know its a really capable vehicle, a legend at its game. It has an imposing presence and a million strong fan following to hold its case here.

All of this doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have a go in it and I’m sure the folks at Jeep would help us with it. We’ll drive the Wrangler and you’d know it. Stay tuned for that!

The Experience

We Indians are ardent SUV lovers and Jeep is a master at making them. Its a universal truth that very few among the many SUV buyers really use their vehicles as they are meant to be used. That holds true, atleast in India for Jeep. The Jeep Camp is a reminder and a testimonial as to what these vehicles are really capable of. The event is going to be held at various major cities across India and we urge all the SUV ardent readers to experience Jeep at their best. Keep an eye at the Jeep website to know more.

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Kedar Vaidya

An utter car guy, he’s the guy on the keyboard. Driver’s seat is his place for solace. Apart from talking cars and driving, Kedar also spends a fortune on die-cast miniatures of them, especially old American Muscle. He loves to understand his ride fully and once he does, he loves to explore its limits. American Hotrodder David Freighburger is his icon, while he dreams to daily drive a 68′ Dodge Charger some day.

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