Exclusive: Kiwi component in all-new Jeep Compass
Search Driven for Jeep for sale
For Fiat Chrysler Group’s engineer Audrey Moore, there is a strong Kiwi connection to the company’s all-new Compass medium SUV.
Over two New Zealand winters, the Compass was tested at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground near Cromwell, overseen by chief engineer Moore.
In Melbourne this week for the Australasian reveal of the Compass, Detroit-based Moore told Driven that there is one component that is all Kiwi.
“The purpose of the testing, while we were there, was to do all of our confirmation of our stability control and all of our winter testing in dynamics,” said Moore.
“From that perspective, both of the winters, New Zealand played a significant role in the development of the electronic stability performance of the vehicle.”
Jeep NZ will have three models available, all powered by a 2.4-litre petrol Tigershark engine producing 129kW of power and 229Nm of torque.
Prices start at $39,990 for the front-wheel drive Longitude that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Limited is priced from $49,990 for the four-wheel-drive, nine-speed and the Trailhawk is $5000 more.
Driven: The C-segment is an important segment for all car manufacturers. What was the most important aspect, as far as engineering was concerned, for the Compass?
Moore: From our side, it was the importance of understanding the competitors, there are some very strong competitors in this segment and they have some high volume.
We wanted to make sure that we really understood the successful vehicles, how they're performing and what they're doing.
Driven: You talked about Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tuscon and Kia Sportage being the main competitors. Did you study those before you began work on the Compass, or in conjunction?
Moore: Typically, up front on a programme, we pick the competitive vehicles. You start looking at them from contents and different things. Then, as you get a little bit further down the track, you start doing engineering measurements of the vehicles.
We started it before the programme was approved, we started benchmarking the vehicles trying to understand. Then, you maintain that benchmarking all the way through ... making sure you didn’t fall behind from too far (technology-wise).
Driven: When you looked at the competitors did you say, ‘Oh, we don’t have that. Do we need to add that?’
Moore: From the Tucson and the Sportage perspective, as they came out, they did do one thing that we didn’t expect, they got bigger. It’s not really something you can change easily on a car that you’re working on. There are some times that you do get those surprises. From a content perspective, a lot of the safety features we have.
Driven: Before you begin to engineer the product, is a there a long list of safety features that need to be included?
Moore: Yeah, there is a piece of paper from the brand and the planning team. “Okay, here’s what we’d like in the car. We’re designing it for this group of people. We have this amount of content. Here’s all the stuff.” Then we start designing the requirements, the guidelines that it all gets put together in as we start the packaging and everything.
Driven: When you were working on the Compass, did you start work on the base model then work up to the Trailhawk or vice versa?
Moore: From different perspectives, it’s both. You have to make sure that from hard design points, the Trailhawk has to be a big part of it.
Because you have to make sure that the body stiffness and the articulation can packaged, plus the wheel and tyres. That portion of the packaging takes precedence, so you have to make sure you have that up front.
The other vehicle models, all the powertrain configurations that come with it, have to be up front. It kind of depends based on what it is.
But you do have to consider both. You can’t do it mutually exclusive because you don’t want the main vehicle to suffer from anything from the Trailhawk and vice versa.
Driven: You tested across six continents. Was any region particularly difficult for you?
Moore: They’ve all had a different challenge. In China we found interesting things with the altitude. That changes performance, especially with temperature.
In Brazil, we had speed bumps. So in the middle of these roads, they have a speed bump. You’re driving 40 miles per hour and they’re not marked ... it makes a loud noise when you go over that. But we were finding that we had to make sure that we changed a little bit of the suspension tuning.
So every region had some challenges for us. This is the first time that we’ve tested in all these places.
Testing off-road is an important part of the job. So how often are you getting off-road?
Not often enough, in my opinion. But we do have annual trips that we go to and we also have a new off-roading track in our Fiat Chrysler proving grounds. So, we can do it whenever we want. My team goes out pretty regularly, whether it’s for trying something new, or testing a new calibration, or whatever.
Driven: What are you driving at the moment?
Moore: I’m driving a Ram 1500 diesel pick-up truck. They always laugh at me (at work). “There’s Audrey showing up. She’s climbing out with her heels and her dresses on.” But it’s fun, I like my pick-up truck.