Need a two tonne off-roader that’s capable of 0-62mph in around five seconds? Who doesn’t? Well, the majority of us but for those people that are that way inclined the usual choices to flirt around consists of the Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne or more powerful BMW X5 models. For this kind of performance, however, you will have to spend around the £80k mark. Find yourself £20,000 short of this, probably something to do with the tax man catching up with you, and you may find the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT becomes a more suitable proposition.
Just how powerful is the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8?
Tuned by the American company’s Street and Racing Technology team, they’ve simply taken the standard Grand Cherokee and given it a bigger bite. The previous SRT model came with a fairly large 6.1-litre V8. The manufacturer clearly felt this wasn’t quite giving the car the power it deserved. This time round it gets a 6.4-litre V8 that produces 461bhp and 464lb ft of torque, and makes it the most powerful and fastest Jeep ever. This will power the 2,458kg monster to 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds.
While that figure is impressive, it’s also mildly terrifying at the same time. Put your foot down and you’re greeted by a loud grumble of the V8 and a flash of colours by the window that signify you’re on the move, very quickly. Once you get the car going, there’s then the slight concern of how you’re meant to slow down such a thing. Fortunately they do seem to have thought this through over at SRT, the clever dicks. The high-performance Brembo brakes, couple with the four-wheel anti-lock brake systems, means the SRT will then go from 62mph back to zero in a distance of just 35 metres. As well as the impressive brakes, the four-wheel drive system also helps you keep in a straight line. It gets a five-speed automatic that, while being fairly smooth and quick-changing, feels a little behind the times compared to some of the rivals’ eight-speed automatic offerings.
Does the Jeep SRT8 handle like a Cayenne?
Unfortunately, like so many American products before it, as soon as you head towards anything that looks remotely like a corner the cracks begin to show. Of course it is going to lean a little, it’s enormous, but it lacks the composure of its more expensive European counterparts. Flick it in to Sport mode – there’s also Track, Auto, Snow and Tow available on the drive select – and things tighten up somewhat with body roll much more controlled, but still not quite up to scratch.
Are they any efforts to make the new Jeep SRT8 more frugal?
While this might seem like a car that will be pleased to see the end of glaciers and couldn’t give a damn about polar bears, the V8 Hemi engine gets some additional technology to at least show some signs of caring about the earth. The new unit comes with a system that will cut the engine to four-cylinders when at cruising speeds. Put your foot down and it rapidly returns to full rainforest-destroying eight-cylinder mode. The changes are swift, and the only sign that this has happened is a small ‘ECO’ display in the trip computer. This may sound akin to a B-52 bomber with one less bomb, but at least it looks like you kind of care about the penguins.
If the power and noise is a little too subtle for you, then you’ll be pleased to know that things are aggressive in the styling department. The previous car was a bit of an understated affair. This time Jeep clearly wanted people notice this was something different, and a brash resident of the USA. With the massive air intakes in the bonnet, large wheel arches to house the 20-inch standard alloys and large grille and front bumper, it’s enough to make ASBOs redundant and rid your local village of unwanted old people. Inside it suffers from the usual foibles, however. The plastics are not quite good enough, particularly those around the gear lever. The fit and finish elsewhere around the cabin is not quite up to the premium standard Jeep is attempting to reach, though the carbon fibre dotted around and SRT sports seats do indicate this is the top-of-the-range model.
In terms of the basics, Jeep have got things right. The power on offer is impressive and it’s not so ferocious you’ll be unwilling to go anywhere near the accelerator pedal. It’s the usual things that still let it down, however. The handling isn’t composed enough and, while it may be much cheaper than the alternatives, it doesn’t quite feel like a £60,000 car. Jeep, it seems, still has some way to go before it catches up.