GRR

First Drive: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

11th June 2017
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

This is a ridiculous car, let’s be clear. A 6.4-litre V8 Hemi is wedged under that big, angry, vented bonnet developing 461bhp and 460lb ft of torque. There’s an eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. Bilstein adaptive dampers and coil springs suspend the 2.4-tonne car which sits on 20in Pirellis and stunning polished aluminium wheels. Subtle, it is not.

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But of course you don’t buy this car if you’re a wallflower. Chrysler’s SRT badge is not for the faint-hearted; the letters stand for Street and Racing Technology, and the badge is the development of what was Team Viper. This is all about extracting raw, crude power; only 10 models have earned the SRT badge, from the Dodge Caliber to the Viper.

Applied to an SUV, however, it’s either highly vulgar and inappropriate or bloody brilliant, depending on your viewpoint. We’re more of the latter opinion.

From the outside, the styling is fantastic; the Grand Cherokee has always been a great-looking car, with bulging wheel arches, boxy corners and mean headlights. Inside, well it’s American, so don’t go expecting European finesse to either the styling or finish or indeed any quality materials. You get leather trim on the seats, and that’s about it. But that’s part of the fun, really: it is “other”. It has all the tech you’d want, such as a touchscreen, Bluetooth, decent satnav, and a £1,525 rear seat-mounted DVD system, but it’s just not joyously presented – the screen is small at eight inches, and the plastic feels a bit cheap. Naturally, there’s a fantastic nine-speaker system with a rocking subwoofer which suits the character of this car perfectly.

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The real fun is to be had on the move, however. Push the start button and that V8 rumbles into life. It’s not outrageously noisy, which is just as well, but be warned: the throttle pedal gives a lot from just a little, while the steering is incredibly slow. In other words, you’ll be wanting a straight-line exit until you grow accustomed to the way the car reacts. We set off from a T-junction, turning right, and almost ploughed into another car as the Jeep shot straight ahead at full speed before we’d got used to the slow rack which requires several full turns of the steering wheel to make it round.

Still, once you ease into this bombastic SUV, it’s a lot of laughs. Sixty miles an hour from a standing start takes five seconds, and then there’s the launch button… press it, left foot brake, raise the revs, lift off the brake pedal and watch out. Having a launch button in an SUV where others put tasteful off-roading graphics of cacti and rocks says it all really. That Combined fuel consumption figure of 20.2mpg is, in reality, going to look a lot more like the Urban cycle figure of 13.6mpg. Actually, on one run down to Goodwood from London, we got 17mpg which didn’t seem too bad. Ah, give me a burger and a stetson and be done with it.

If you love America, and American culture, you’ll love this car. If you find our cousins across The Pond a bit vulgar and brash, you’d better buy the Audi SQ7.

  • Jeep

  • SRT

  • Cherokee

  • chrysler

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