Jeep Compass Trailhawk, Meridian and Grand Cherokee incoming
Riding on the back of 130 per cent growth in 2021-22, Jeep India have outlined their 2022 plans headlined by three new launches. Action kicks off in February itself with the launch of the Compass Trailhawk. It will be followed by the 7-seater Meridian. And towards the end of 2022 will come the Grand Cherokee, this time locally assembled to be price competitive.
“I am not happy with the volume in India”, says Christian Meunier, Jeep Brand CEO, with the target being the strong response received in Brazil where they do 15,000 units a month. He adds, “We need to grow in India,” and it starts with a strong product plan.
Jeep Grand Cherokee, assembled in India
Slated for launch towards the end of 2022 the Grand Cherokee will go up against the likes of the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE, the Land Rover Defender and BMW X5. India will be the first market outside of the USA where the Grand Cherokee will be assembled. This follows in the footsteps of the Wrangler, India being the only country outside the USA where the iconic 4x4 is assembled. Local assembly will ensure cost competitiveness of the luxury SUV, lessons having been learnt from the tepid response to the previous Grand Cherokee which was brought in as a CBU. The Grand Cherokee will come to India with only a petrol engine – a 2.0-litre turbo, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
There’s no dearth of kit on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with the SUV getting heated seats in the first as well as the second row, while ventilation is only available in the first row. The seats upholstery itself is done up in Capri leather and suede and Grand Cherokee also gets a panoramic sunroof. Also on offer is a 9-speaker Alpine audio system featuring a subwoofer and a 506-watt amplifier.
We’ve seen plenty of test mules of the 7-seater SUV and the name Meridian was recently confirmed. This was already launched in Brazil as the Commander and the Indian version gets an additional full-width chrome strip on the bumper, framing the airdam. The trademark 7-slot grille and headlights are similar to the recently facelifted Compass and deliver a strong face. The big visual difference is on the rear which is more upright with slim tail lamps, a full-width chrome strip and the two-tone floating roof treatment which extends down into the tail lamps. The wheels are of a new design but stick with the 18-inch wheel size as the top-end Compass.
The Meridian will be considerably bigger than the Compass with overall length going up by 364mm to 4769mm while the wheelbase has been stretched out by 158mm to 2794mm. This should address one of the Compass’ biggest shortcomings and that is the cramped (relative to its rivals) middle row. However unlike other 7-seater SUVs, no Captain's seats are planned for the second row, sticking with the traditional bench.
Jeep India brand head Nipun Mahajan confirms that the engines will be carry over from the Compass, the 1.4-turbo-petrol making 160 bhp which gets the option of a dual-clutch automatic while the top-end will be the 2-litre diesel making 168bhp and mated to the optional 9-speed automatic. Only the diesel automatic will get the 4x4 drivetrain, the others sticking with front-wheel-drive. Jeep India claims a best in class acceleration for the Meridian.
The Jeep Meridian reveal is planned for March 2022 and we will get to drive it in April 2022 with the launch happening soon after. Expect a significant price jump over the Compass, but Jeep are confident of success calling this a “whitespace” with no direct rivals. The best seller is of course the Toyota Fortuner which is a body-on-frame construction unlike the monocoque Jeep.
An interesting thing to note is the 7000 annual sales of the Ford Endeavour. With Ford out of the picture the Endeavour’s market share could be ripe pickings for the Meridian.
Jeep Compass Trailhawk
The product launches will kick off at the end February with the launch of the Jeep Compass Trailhawk. The more off-road oriented version of the Compass will follow the formula of the earlier Trailhawk launched in 2019 with an additional lift in ground clearance, all-season tyres, better approach and departure angles, while the 9-speed gearbox with its extremely low gearing for the first two ratios simulating the torque multiplication of a low-ratio gearbox. Watch out for the review which drops on evo India on February 27, 2022 at 12 noon.
“We are studying it. And still studying it”, is Christian’s guarded response to the question of whether Jeep India will ever launch a volume generating compact SUV. But it is inevitable that Jeep will have a compact SUV now that the synergies within the wider Stellantis Group are moving ahead at full steam. Former Citroen India head Roland Bouchara is now CEO and managing director of Stellantis India and, while there are no confirmations, it is widely suspected that Jeep will get hold of the upcoming Citroen C3’s platform which is being designed and engineered in India. While there is no provision for 4x4 on this platform Jeep will use an electrified rear axle and thus fit in with the brand identity of having 4x4 on every product offering.
It’s exciting times ahead for the Stellantis group in India.