American Pie

The introduction:

Is the Grand Cherokee on your radar? I delayed a bit, I have to confess, but with a 6.4-litre, 470bhp Hemi V8, variable cam-phasing, 20in forged alloys, dustbin-lid-sized Brembo brakes and 160mph top speed, the SRT8 has just ram-raided its way back into view.

The SRT8 version

In SRT8 form, it’s an inch lower, has tumescent arches, a new single-piece front-spoiler unit with LED running lights, and a bonnet with a pair of huge heat-extracting ducts punched into it. The rear end has a spoiler and diffuser, with fat exhaust pipes. Yes, it’s all a bit daft in this day and age, and you can feel the odd bit of CO2 leaching out, even with the engine switched off.

Inside, though, it takes a few hits. But only a few. Old-school Jeeps had interiors like old schools, with a chronic mismatch of materials. This is vastly better: the seats mix Nappa leather and Alcantara, and grip your frame superbly. The driving position is excellent. And the central display adds ‘Performance Pages’ to the usual list, including g force, acceleration and deceleration times.

Handling:

Verifying Jeep’s record of 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds is hard, and only goes upto it in 6.6 seconds. Not that this suggests any lack of commitment from the SRT8. Its engine is a thunderingly fine thing, and gurgles and bellows with volcanic promise. Ninety per cent of its 465lb ft of torque is on tap from 2,800rpm to 6,000rpm – a 50 per cent improvement on the outgoing 6.1-litre Hemi.

Best of all, though, is the way it handles. Torsional stiffness is a 146 per cent improvement over the old car, and there’s an active damping system that interacts with every outpost of the chassis’s electronic architecture to optimise its dynamics (there are five modes to choose from). It has man-sized, accurate steering. The upshot is it doesn’t handle like a drunken tugboat.

What’s great: Thumping engine, fine handling

What’s not: Filling the thing up
Final Opinion: This new gen blows the performance SUV market wide open.
Performance: 0-62mph in 4.8secs, max 160mph, 16.8mpg
Tech: 6.4-litre, V8, 4WD, 470bhp, 465lb ft, 2336kg, n/a g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Pretty much everything is standard
And avoid this: Ticking anything else 😛

No gallery for this. Unbelievably hard to get good photos

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