Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

The American "runner up" is finally ready!

We talk about high performance SUVs and nowadays we see the segment getting more attention. That being said, it has always been in German territory. When Jeep's Grand Cherokee SRT8 was brought in with a 6.4 liter engine some years back, it essentially entered the league but lacked a few bits in interior styling and refinement. Cherokee SRT8 had a better edge when it came to pricing, so it basically needed some minor tweaks to stay up. 

While in this course, SRT (Street and Racing Technology) turned out to be a separate brand and Cherokee was just one of the 5 models under SRT. We took the all new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT for a spin and before I go in to details, let me put this down: the American "runner up" is finally ready!

Driving Impressions
The main change is connected to the number "8". It is removed from the logo "SRT8" and now stays simply "SRT". Further, the old 5 speed automatic transmission is replaced by an all new, fully electronic 8 speed automatic transmission. Though it's a refreshed model from last year, we have a long list of updates. Starting with an aggressive stance thanks to the overall brawny shape and the signature seven slot front grille set with black screen inserts, we've also got bi-xenon headlamps in a dark background enclosed in LED lighting strip. LED strips also cover the large tail light which also features a black surround. The good looking rear spoiler joins the new one-touch lift gate that features the SRT badge.

Much was expected inside the car; hence, without any drama, things were put in place in style and with the addition of those extra posh elements. We see a solid new SRT exclusive three-spoke steering wheel with metal shift paddles - feels comfortable and practical when it comes to reaching control switches on it and below. There's a carbon fiber panel that sweeps across the driver's door, instrument panel and front passenger door. We also see stitched leather appointments on the dashboard and door panels. Now comes the best part I liked - the new Uconnect 8.4" radio touch screen which shows a host of entertainment and connectivity features like  smartphone integration and a nice navigation system along with regular features. We also found the SRT-exclusive Performance page - one of the easiest controls I have come across and that too very practical for daily use. The gauge cluster now features a 7" LCD screen to display car information. The T- handle gear shifter in the center console is leather wrapped. Next to it, we've got a launch control button which when applied did show some character in starlight line acceleration from still - not a GTR type off course. Front seats had a lot of bolstering done and in terms of space and comfort, we don't have any complaints.

Now let's check out the metal under the hood. It's a 6.4 liter HEMI V8 delivering 470 hp at 6,000 rpm and 630 Nm torque at 4,300 rpm. With three additional gears, the 8 speed automatic transmission system was engineered to optimize shift quality for better fuel efficiency and performance flowing though all wheels. We can go with any of the five drive modes namely Auto, Sport, Tow, Track and Snow. For each mode, adjustments are done to the torque split, shift schedule and the dynamic suspension system.

Moving to the safety department, our car features Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection. We have red painted Brembo brakes, six piston (front) and four piston (rear) callipers. The car rides on SLA independent front suspension with coil springs, Bilstein adaptive damping suspension (ADS), "A" arms and a stabilizer bar. The rear suspension is a multi-link design with coil spring, Bilstein ADS, aluminium lower control arm, independent upper links (tension and camber), plus a separate toe link and a stabilizer bar.

Since it was all about the extra 3 gears, we were curious to see if any good was added. Speed pedal pushed and there you go, a descent beeline power delivery followed a kick start. On our way to Hatta, the drive was smooth while the sexy engine grunt reminds you what's underneath the hood. On twists and turns we realized how firm the car is and that's a big yes to answer the car's stability. Solid brakes as sexy they looked were excellent for real. The chunky steering wheel with its meaty hold offered a lot of confidence with a stiff feedback. We didn't check, but SRT claims an increase of 44% towing capacity. We used the new Eco mode which deactivates four cylinders while cruising, to gain better fuel economy. Good feature, but that it is a deal for a car shooting 470 horse powers might help a Jeep salesman. Paddle shifters offered a good hold and they are swift. When Auto mode is moved to Sport, we noticed snappy shifts, rigid suspension and the power delivery had a bias towards the rear wheels. So that's about changing modes and using what we require. The mode shift takes place without any effect on the chosen suspension, stability control and driveline torque split settings.

Verdict
Now let's make a list of competitors. Grand Cherokee SRT can stay up against Mercedes ML63 AMG for the following reasons: aggressive looks, loosely the same platform and refreshed interiors and software. Though it is less powerful than ML63, Cherokee can still tackle with an attractive price. Supercharged Range Rover is an off roader and a pricey option, hence, invites a different league. Cayenne Turbo S looks too classy and again has the same issue with price. So in short, our tester can offer similar performance and features that its German counterparts offer, but the key differentiator remains: price paid for the value, which the American justifies quite nicely.

Specification

Year:  2014
Engine Cylinder:  V8
Displacement: 6.4 liter HEMI
Power: 470 hp
Torque: 630 Nm
Transmission Type: 8 Speed Automatic
Drive: AWD

Performance

0-100: 5 Sec
Top Speed: 256 kph
Fuel Efficiency: 15 liters/100km

Technical Aspects            Points

Design                                    4.5
Handling                                 4
Safety                                      4
Performance                            4
Technical Innovation               4 

Consumer Aspects          Points

Driver Satisfaction                   4
Emotional Appeal                    4.5
Value for Money                      4
Comfort Level                          4
Middle East Friendly                4

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