BROTHERS AT ARMS
Overdrive|September 2021
THE STARKLY DIFFERENT CITROEN C5 AIRCROSS AND JEEP COMPASS NOW HAVE THE SAME MASTERS, AND COMPETE FOR THE SAME BUYERS’ ATTENTION
TUHIN GUHA

The Jeep Compass and the Citroen C5 Aircross now find themselves in a bit of a sticky situation. Developed and then launched in India completely independently of each other, these two SUVs are now suddenly newly anointed siblings, being from two of the 14 brands that make up Stellantis.

To make things more interesting, both are aimed at roughly the same buyer profile. The Jeep and the Citroen will be on your radar if you’re looking for an elevated experience from your two-row SUV but don’t want to spend luxury brand money, or if the rough and tumble ladder-frame offerings just don’t cut it. And for that added dash of colour, the C5 Aircross is the French brand’s big first play in the Indian car market while the Compass has had a refresh to cover off the ever widening range of options that we’re seeing in the lower reaches of this segment.

Styling

If your aspiration towards SUV ownership is driven by a need to stand out, you can do far worse than the C5 Aircross. It looks like nothing else of the road, with its square shapes and rounded edges. That it is substantially larger than photos suggest comes after the fact. There’s quite a bit of nuance to the styling, in the way the double chevron integrates into the two-part LED headlamps on this top Shine trim and the way the large swathes of sheet metal are carefully tempered with the squared-off sculpting. The tasteful gloss red highlights specific to this white paint option could have been easily overdone, but instead do just enough to liven up the otherwise relatively dark spaces in the bumper..

This slightly offbeat styling exercise continues to the sides, where the fairly large glasshouse and quite flat body panels are tempered by the ‘Airbumps’ and the chrome highlighting. The gloss red also makes it to the inner planes of the roof-rails in a striking detail. Topping this are the sharply cut two-tone alloy wheels. The individualistic look continues with the heavily detailed two-part tailamps with the cubed LEDs while the faux vents and the heavy cladding repeated from the front round offa look that is attention grabbing in all the right ways.

Again with the Compass, nothing screams ‘SUV’ louder than the Jeep badge and the seven slats it carries on its grille. Jeep hasn’t been too busy with the look of the Compass with this mid-cycle upgrade but it can be argued that there wasn’t much to fix here either. The few changes that have been made to the face have been effective though. These bring the Compass in line with the more posh, horizontally themed look of the new Grand Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer. So you have the slimmer LED headlamps and the condensed (and ornamental) grille while the high mounted fog lamps are deftly integrated into the large two-part airdam with the layered horizontal openings.

The hard-edged Jeep look is retained for the rest of the Compass, and to the firm’s credit, the slapped on face doesn’t look incongruous. We only wish there were a few more tweaks to the rear, with a mildly revised bumper being the only change. The new 18-inch wheels are a good addition and the Compass isn’t completely lost in the presence of the Citroen with its more upright stance, although the smaller footprint is made more noticeable by this dark green shade.

Interiors

Jeep’s designers have been far busier with the interiors of the facelifted Compass, enough for the updated cabin to seem like its from an entirely new car. The stepped layout with its thoughtful mix of materials and finishes looks far more contemporary although equally impactful is the improvement in general fit and finish. Most surfaces on the dash are soft-touch, while the side airvents’ seamless integration and the brightwork separating the dash move the ambience a fair bit upmarket. We only wish this strip was better textured and some of the plastics in the footwell were better fitted.

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