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ON THE ROAD- A Jeep Adventure to Youghal

Having already sampled, and enjoyed the Jeep Renegade last year, I was keen to drive the all new Compass- the vehicle which pitches the iconic brand right into the middle of the all important SUV segment in Ireland.

My test car was equipped with the 1.6 M-Jet diesel 120bhp engine, a modern incarnation of the Fiat Group’s aging, but impressive Eco lump. My Dad drives, and loves, a Bravo 1.6 Sport M-jet so we were both keen to see how the engines compared.

Here, I digress. Did you know that the famous “Let’s Twist Again” Chubby Checker played in Ireland?

The night the folks met…..

Well he did, just once in July 1963 at the Red Barn dance hall in Youghal in Cork. My Mother was from Cork and she travelled there with a few friends whilst my father and two of his mates had the same idea and travelled from Drogheda in County Louth- a considerable spin even on today’s vastly improved roads. To cut a long story short, they met, my Dad proposed, my Mum laughed at him- they kept in touch and, as she used to say, she relented!

We grew up listening to that story and Dad and I had decided to add Youghal to our list of road trips, so when I had the Compass, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I picked Dad up early on a Wednesday morning and we headed off.

The Compass is available from €26,495 (including the “191 Jeep Saving” discount) but as is the norm, the test vehicle, a 1.6 M-JET 120hp FWD Limited, was laden with options and spec. This pleased Dad no end, as he isn’t called the Gadget King for no reason. Heated seats and steering wheel, the large iConnect screen, reversing camera and of course Apple Car Play, were all tested and given the seal of approval before we cleared the M50!

Many miles, and stories, later we arrived in Youghal. Our choice of accomodation was the Walter Raleigh Hotel. Raleigh had taken part in the suppression of the Desmond rebellion in 1579 and benefited from the subsequent distribution of land. He received 40,000 acres which included the important towns of Youghal and Lismore. Youghal was the home of Sir Walter Raleigh for short periods during the seventeen years in which he held land in Ireland. Raleigh is said to have planted the first potatoes in Ireland at Youghal, thus introducing a nutritious food which, of course, was to have a major impact on Ireland’s future!

Having landed at the hotel, we decided to take a spin around the town, as a recce, before planning our evening on the town. As we approached the main street, a classic old styled cinema caught our eye so we stopped for a look. We met the manager, Scott, who offered us a tour of the recently reopened and restored Regal Cinema, which, he proudly told us, was booked out later that evening for a Universal Pictures premiere of Mary Queen of Scots, which was not on general release until the following week. As we wandered past the local radio station CRY104FM, I decided to pop in and tell them Dad’s story. Unsurprisingly, they sent me back to the Jeep to get him and a few minutes later, we were in studio with Gerry Murray for a very enjoyable interview (which you can listen to HERE) After all that excitement, we thought a glass of wine might be in order so we headed to Aherns Seafood Restaurant and ordered two glasses. We had intended to go back to the hotel before dinner but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. As ever, we got chatting and before we knew it, the manager had introduced us to the Cinema owners and we were added to the guest list for the premiere! It seemed Dad was quickly becoming a celebrity in the town in which he met my mother 56 years ago! After a superb meal, we headed towards the cinema where we enjoyed a further glass of wine in the winebar, originally the projection room, and settled down to watch the film.

Having enjoyed a full breakfast with a sea view- and a newspaper, we decided to take a spin to the Quality Hotel, which is pretty much built on the site of the Redbarn Dancehall, where Mum and Dad danced to Let’s Twist Again on July 29th 1963! A great end to a very enjoyable trip!

Oh yes, the Jeep. Well the brand is all about adventure and we certainly had one of those. The Compass is stylish, comfortable and perhaps most importantly, different. I assume a big factor in choosing one of these machines will be the desire to have something different to the hordes of Tucsons and Qashqais which dominate the segment in this country. It is a completely to its smaller brother the Renegade, which, with its many hat-tips to the WW2 Jeep, screams at you to throw a mountain bike or surf board on the roof and head towards the horizon. The Compass, obviously with the segment and competitors in mind, is far more reserved. The SUV segment demands chunky looks but most, if not all, drivers will never go off road in these machines, hence most are 2wd.  We took the longer coastal route on the way to Youghal and almost four hours (including the odd pitstop) were comfortable and enjoyable. The sound system is excellent and there is no shortage of USB sockets, ensuring we both arrived at our destination fully charged. The M-Jet2 1.6 diesel wouldn’t exactly be at home on a racetrack, especially in this machine, but the fuel economy figures are still mightily impressive, with a official claim of 4.4 l/100k, (64mpg in old money) and CO2 emissions of 117g/km. In my week with the Compass, I was a bit off this , with an average of 6.0 (47mpg), but it could still be described as miserly. The Compass is certainly more “grown up” than its Renegade brother but it remains to be be seen how many will be drawn away from more popular machines in the segment by the lure of the iconic brand, and the chance to drive something different….

Jeep Compass ‘Limited’ 1.6-litre diesel SUV, 120hp, front-wheel drive, 6spd, 4.4l/100km, 117g/km; €200 road tax.

Price: €34,695, tested version €38,345. Range from €27,995, (both now less €1,500 Jeep Saving) further information HERE

Leo Nulty