The new SRT8 Grand Cherokee is hurtled along by 6.4 litres of Hemi V8. This sinister SUV brags about output numbers like 344kW and 624Nm and the ability to outrun many sports cars with 0-100km/h dispatched in just five seconds; the on board sprint timer reported a 4.8 seconds at one stage and a top speed of 255km/h.
The SRT8 is not the only big, bad SUV around town. The Range Rover Sport, BMW X5M and the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG have long been the rulers but the overall winning factor about the Jeep is that it costs much less than its cheapest competitor and the only thing on the options list is a tow-bar.
What’s more, if you do decide to hit the rough stuff, the Jeep is more than capable. Look, it’s not a Wrangler, but it’s still a Jeep and still has four-wheel-drive functionality. However, I wouldn’t recommend damaging this Jeep as it has been fitted with some serious Pirelli rubber and damaging one of those could be costly.
Don’t think that the Jeep is just a straight-line master… oh no! To keep things as tidy as possible in the corners, the Jeep has an SRT-tuned adaptive damping suspension system with an electronic limited slip diff and stability control. Drivers can choose between five modes, including a function for slippery conditions and for racetrack driving. The brakes are normally the first to throw in the towel on a race track but thankfully the big, heavy Jeep comes standard with mammoth-sized Brembo brakes.
The Jeep also comes with a full bore American rock anthem sound track; it’s deep, throaty and loud and it really influences you in all the wrong ways to exploit all eight growling cylinders.
Obviously, you're not expecting much in the way of fuel economy when you take home a beast like this, but Jeep has at least tried to mitigate the fuel-guzzling drawback with a system that allows the engine to run on just four cylinders under calmer driving conditions. I took this mammoth on the highways and managed 10 litres/100km. In town though, it returned a 16 litres/100km, which considering my failure to restrain my right foot, is not bad at all. The Jeep has also caught up to the Germans regarding the gearbox. The new Jeep features the widely used eight-speed ZF gearbox that can be found in many other high-end cars. This helps with economy as well as power delivery when needed. The changes are smooth and subtle, which is a huge improvement on the previous five-speed box that was used.
Inside, you'll find a racy cockpit complete with suede-leather bucket seats, various carbon fibre decorations and luxuries like adaptive cruise control, SatNav, park-assist, electrically adjustable seats and, wait for it… an 825W Harman Kardon sound system. The Jeep SRT8 is packed with so many features, enhancing the driver’s comfort and safety.
Active headlights scan the road ahead allowing for better visibility; they also feature an auto bright and dim function. Americans love to be entertained and so do I. The infotainment system is easy to use and the centre-mounted big screen displays all the necessary information. Rear passenger benefit from heated seats as well as two entertainment screens located behind the front seats. There’s even a BluRay player and HDMI ports located in the centre console.
Overall, I think Jeep has hit the nail on the head here with the SRT8; it is pure American cubic inch power with sinister looks and a thunderous soundtrack.