Sunday Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: Coming in strong

The timing couldn’t be higher. The Jeep Meridian arrives because the 7-seater class is seeing recent motion, and shortly after the exit of the Ford Endeavour. However most significantly, the Meridian is Jeep’s second mainstream mannequin in India. Till now, the Compass—launched approach again in 2017—was the corporate’s sole pillar in India, on whose shoulders rested the fortunes of the corporate. Area of interest fashions just like the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee are good for picture, however Jeep wanted one other mainstream mannequin to achieve essential mass within the fast-evolving and rising Indian SUV market.

Stability is all

Whereas the Meridian is predicated on the Compass, Jeep has creditably re-modelled the whole automobile with a considerably longer wheelbase and new physique panels. And it’s the wheelbase, together with the comparatively quick entrance and rear overhangs (essential for a Jeep’s off-road functionality), that give the Meridian beautifully balanced proportions. The truth is, the Meridian is extra Grand Cherokee-like than a stretched Compass.

The infotainment system is carried over from the Compass

The dashboard is just about the identical because the Compass and that’s not essentially a nasty factor. The standard of supplies, the stable door handles and chrome finishes all exude an upmarket really feel. Nonetheless, a bit extra differentiation—apart from the two-tone, brown and black color scheme and the otherwise stitched seats—would have been welcome.

The all-digital dashboard is carried over from the Compass too, so that you get a ten.25-inch digital instrument cluster with a number of shows, a ten.1-inch infotainment system that has wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree digicam and an enormous panoramic sunroof. However whenever you take a look at how rivals are pampering homeowners, the Meridian comes throughout a tad stingy with its gizmos.

Third row woes

The center row is much like the Compass, which implies it’s a bit quick on house. Nonetheless, the seats themselves are an enormous enchancment, with comfier cushions; this mechanically improves your sitting posture. The excessive seating place and the massive window make it simpler to look out, and this enhanced visibility makes lengthy drives extra nice. Not like different 7-seaters although, the center row doesn’t slide, which is a disgrace as a result of this might have given some much-needed further legroom.

The automobile has an extended wheelbase

The third row is kind of disappointing when you think about the house on provide in different 7-seaters. Positive, the one-touch or one-pull lever that flips and tumbles ahead each sections of the 60:40 rear seat base makes it simple to entry the final row, however the low roof forces you to contort a good bit to wiggle inside. It’s not a spot the place adults can journey lengthy distances in consolation and is greatest left for kids or for baggage.

Driving with aplomb

The Meridian comes with only one engine possibility, the identical 170hp, 2.0-litre diesel that powers the Compass, however in a barely completely different state of tune. It’s a contact quieter than the Compass, however whenever you rev the engine arduous, the characteristically gravelly, diesel drone is kind of audible. Efficiency feels a bit blunted too in comparison with the Compass, a results of the additional 110kg of weight and softer engine calibration. In isolation although, the Meridian doesn’t really feel underpowered within the least. However while the automobile is powerful and has sufficient oomph, it doesn’t really feel notably sporty, and that’s right down to the reasonably lazy 9-speed gearbox.

The Compass is thought for its trip and dealing with, however the Meridian takes it to a special degree. Stability is just phenomenal and the way in which the Meridian flattens any highway is astonishing. The arrogance it offers you thru corners is superb and there’s merely no different SUV on this class (or perhaps a phase above and beneath) that rides and handles with such aplomb.

The Meridian has no direct competitors given its distinctive set of skills, however priced at round 35 lakh, it isn’t low cost. Nonetheless, it does make a great case for these wanting a three-row, robust SUV that’s comfy, user-friendly and equally adept each on and off-road.

The views expressed by the columnist are private

Catch Hormazd Sorabjee’s column each fortnight in HT Brunch. It’s going to subsequent seem on Might 28, 2022.

From HT Brunch, Might 14, 2022

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