The Compass is the first model in Jeep‘s 2011 product onslaught following the brand’s acquisition by Italian marque Fiat.

After the predecessor was pulled in 2009, Jeep says the latest version, on sale this month, has “undergone a comprehensive redesign inside and out to appeal to a wider customer base”.

It re-enters the compact SUV market at a competitive and popular time, and is up against models such as the hugely successful Nissan Qashqai, Toyota RAV4, Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan.

It’s reasonably priced – part of the inspiration for the original model was to appeal to buyers who may have thought a Jeep was beyond their means – and the new two-wheel drive makes it even more affordable. Prices start from £16,995 and rise to £23,995.

The top-seller will be a 2.2-litre diesel with 136hp, but there will also be a high-output 161hp version and two petrol engines, a 2.0 154hp and a2.4 168hp. As the lowest-emitting car in the range the 2WD 2.2 136hp will be the biggest fleet seller, but there’s a sticking point: it emits 161g/km CO2, just 1g/km above the capital gains threshold, which means it’s out of the question for many businesses. Still, fleets are expected to make up a fifth of Compass sales and, more importantly, product manager Andrea Lo Presti said there will be further revisions to the car in December. This will “see CO2 come down well below 160g/km”.

There are four trims: Sport, Sport+, Limited and 70th Anniversary, with the mid-range options likely to be the most popular.

Jeep likes to call the new interior ‘premium’, but while it’s Smart in appearance it is still fairly cheap-looking. Meanwhile, on the road the ride is not bad, and the suspension and steering is good, although understeer is problematic and the power-steering pump makes hugely disconcerting sounds.

For many, the Compass just won’t make business sense, but come December, it could make an interesting potential alternative for fleet managers.

Jeep Compass 2.0 CRD?Sport 4×2 136hp
P11D price £19,995
Model price range £16,995-£23,995
Fuel consumption 46.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 161g/km/(25%)
BIK 20/40% per month £83/£167
Service interval 15,000mls
Insurance tbc
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 458/1269 litres
Engine size/power 2143cc/136hp
Top speed/0-62mph 125mph/11.5secs
Score 6/10
Verdict A leftfield mid-range
alternative for soft
off-roader fans