What is it?
A fire breathing monster, that’s what it is!
The Grand Cherokee in standard form isn’t a subtle 4x4 by any means, but when you add a deep front bumper which is filled with a huge air dam, flared wheel arches, 20” alloy wheels and finish off with a pair of big bore tailpipes, you get the sense that there’s something special going on.
What Jeep’s ‘Street & Racing Technology’ team have done is shoehorn a Hemi 6.4ltr V8 into their venerable Grand Cherokee, and made it, at time of writing at least, the fastest and quickest SUV on the market.
When I drove Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT back in June 2017 at Millbrook, I concluded that it was totally bonkers, and of course the world needs more bonkers cars, but that was only a 20-minute blast around a course, so the question I needed answered was "What's it like to live with?"
On the road
To mark its arrival at Muddy Towers, Muddy Madam and I drove it down the NEC in Birmingham to a trade show. I know, boring right? Yes it was, and, although the snarling V8 wanted me to bury the throttle, I somehow resisted temptation and kept my driving licence for another day. It proved to be a rather comfortable motorway cruiser with the big V8 being well muted, as was the outside world, even the huge 20" tyres didn't cause much of a fuss along poorly maintained roads.
You could argue that being a heavy monster of a 4x4 that it wouldn’t compete well with the likes of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo or the BMW X5M when it comes down to performance and handling, and maybe you’d be right. But The Mud Life isn't just about on-road manners, we look at the whole shebang, and out of the three I know which I’d feel more comfortable taking off-road.
Whether you're commuting, shopping or about to embark on a 3-hour journey to visit family who decided to move away, apart from its crazy thirst, on a daily basis the SRT is very nice to live with.
Of course, I didn’t expect much from the economy, and Jeep reckon you should see a combined figure of 21mpg. However, according to the onboard computer, at a constant 50mph through road works on the M6 it told me I was achieving 28.4mpg, which I didn’t think was too bad, considering. According to the PR bumf the SRT’s system shuts off half of the engine’s cylinders under light throttle loads, so we had a V4. Reaching 70mph it told me it was drinking 25.6mpg, and erm, I would imagine that 80mph would be around 23.7mpg.
However, during my normal morning commute it guzzled just 9mpg!
Of course, being the super-hot version it didn’t stop me from taking it off the beaten track, after all it’s a Jeep, so it’ll pretty much go where you point it, subject to tyre choice and clearance of course.
Shod with low profile tyres and stiffer suspension, I did get the impression that it'd rather I stick to tarmac, but the SRT handled the rocks, stones, dirt and the usual balancing act with ease.
It isn’t going to win many innovative awards, but it’s very comfortable and surprisingly quiet. However, I had 4 specific problems with the SRT’s interior:
- First was the transmission tunnel, on the right hand drive version the tunnel tapers into the footwell quite a lot meaning that there isn’t a lot of space to rest your left foot.
- Second was that the both the indicators and windscreen wipers use the same stalk - that’s a bit weird and took a while to get used to. In fact that’s a lie, I didn’t get used to it at all!
- Then there was the white stitching on the dash that reflected badly on the windscreen - which was quite annoying; if it was my car I would invest in a black permanent marker pen and colour them in.
- But for me, the worst part of the interior was the foot/handbrake. In my old Lexus LS400 and other cars I’ve driven, the foot/handbrake was quite easy to use, as it’s generally on the same level as the brake and accelerator. On the SRT however, the driver has to bring their knee up to their chin just for their foot to reach the bloomin’ pedal, it’s so high up!
Now I’ve got that of my chest, the rest of the interior is rather splendid. Up front is very practical, just as a Grand Cherokee should be, with cup-holders and decent-sized door bins and a good glovebox. The seats are among the nicest too, they offered good lateral support as well as being long and wide enough for my large girth.
The infotainment system was easy to use and fairly straight forward, and like every other Jeep I've driven, they have the best windscreen wash system of any car - ever! Pull the stalk and it's like a tidal wave of water rushing up the windscreen ready to clean every inch of it.
Sometimes it's the small things that really impress you about a car.
In the rear, well it’s huge. With the rear seats up the Jeep offers 782ltr of space, and fold them down and the maximum luggage capacity stretches to 1,554ltrs.
Engine & transmission
Of course, the standard Grand Cherokee has a variety of options, but they’re not important. What is important is the huge 6.4-litre HEMI V8 fire-breathing monster that produces 461bhp and can sprint from 0-62mph in five seconds - which isn’t quite shoddy for a car that weighs almost 2.5 tonnes.
The 8-speed automatic gearbox does an amazing job of keeping up with the power, whether you’re dawdling through town, creeping along a green-lane or trying to use all of the available 461 horses.
Fuel consumption? Nah, I wouldn’t worry about that.
I love the snarling nostrils in the bonnet, not only do they look great, but they serve a purpose of getting rid of some of the heat from the engine. Sat at traffic lights after a runabout I amused myself by watching the escaping heat haze.
At around £64,000 the SRT is not for the likes of me, though I’m fairly confident that in around ten years time when the price settles to a reasonable rate I would like to think that I’d be first in the queue to buy one. Of course it has its faults, but which car hasn’t? Personally I can live with its foibles as the SRT is a fun and practical car to have in your life, if you can afford the fuel bills. obviously.