2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 | road test

Posted on Mar 13, 2007 by

I have always had an affinity to Jeeps. Don’t know why? Maybe it’s ‘cause of all that masculinity associated to it. Well, some may argue at that blatant statement, considering the new crop of cars that the brand is churning out, the Compass being a point in case. But for me, personally, Jeeps will always be a part and parcel of all the machoism. So when it came to testing the quickest and the fastest SUV that has ever created, I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!

For starters, SRT or Street and Racing Technology is the equivalent of Mercedes AMG and BMW Alpina. The Chrysler 300C SRT8 application was the first one to arrive from the American outfit to our shores. Jeep followed suit with the Grand Cherokee SRT8 and found immense success last year with cars being lapped up like hot cakes.

Like any average car guy, at first thought, the idea of Jeep to have a full-on street-performance-oriented SUV seemed quiet sacrilegious to me. But later on, after the initial blush, the whole attitude towards the car changed. It took some time and definitely some after-thoughts to understand why Jeep has created this monster!

Looking at its hunkered-down stance with deep front air dams and massive wheels with low-profile tyres, one can invariably state that this car is destined only to blaze the blacktop and nowhere near the off-road territory the brand have always touted to be its own. So, you might ask, then what’s an SUV and that too one wearing a Jeep badge doing on smooth shiny tarmac? What about the rich heritage? The go-anywhere characteristics? Well, these are questions that we would like to ask Jeep as well. Maybe, Jeep should consider putting out a special off-road package for the SRT8?

The overall profile definitely looks cool, at least for me. Jeep has tried to keep the Grand Cherokee SRT8 project as much aggressive as possible. The styling is so in-the-face that the massive wheel flares look almost out of scale with the rest of the body. The low-slung front chin needs extra attention. One has to be pretty confident when using parking lots and speed bumps, as there are chances that the front end might graze the ledge/bump.

The centre-mounted chromed dual exhaust catches the attention from the behind. This is something that you normally do not get to see on cars unless it’s a Lamborghini or a Ford GT. It’s not only the exhaust that’s interesting; the low muted rumble arising from it when you tromp on the gas pedal is something that makes this SUV even more livelier. The enormous chromed 20-inch five-spoke wheels shod with high-performance Goodyear W-rated four season tyres with run-flat capability allow the Brembos to peek through them adding to what is an already aggressive overall image.

The Jeep guys have tried to keep the interior simple and straightforward. There are no gimmicks here. The use of hard plastics in the dash combined with leather steering wheel will not go down pretty well with buyers looking for absolute exclusiveness in their car. But fit and finish is quite good and the key areas like the seats, steering wheel and the gearshift knob are nicely trimmed. Hey, after all this is a Jeep and those looking for glitz and glamour inside the confines of their vehicle better go elsewhere!

The SRT8 provided to us came with power moon roof, heated seats, reverse park sensor, in-dash DVD player and side curtain airbags. Blue-ringed gauges along with metallic inserts in dash and door panels and the billet-drilled foot pedals added to the overall performance theme. The adjustable accelerator pedal was a welcome addition as this is one SUV that needs to be kept under a noose. Keeping the pedal position closer to the metal aided so very much is controlling the SUV in heavy traffic as more pedal travel made the SRT8 leap ahead ferociously with every downward motion of the right foot. Audio controls are located on the back of the steering wheel and were very intuitive. This leaves the big chunky steering wheel neat and tidy to play around with.

Both the front bucket seats are bolstered to the max and feature firm side wings as well as suede inserts. These help hold the driver in place when taking twisty roads or negotiating roundabouts and provide for a feeling as if the seats are wrapping around you. The second-row seats are too flat compared to the seats on the front, and most passengers who sat behind felt that it was a bit hard on them when going over road imperfections.

 

 

The only gripe that I had with the interior was that of the handbrake lever, which is massive. Maybe Jeep could have done better to pare it down a bit. Since the SRT8 features an all-wheel-drive configuration with power being sent normally to the rear wheels most of the time, the torque-spilt lever or switch is absent from the dash. This has invariably freed up a lot of space in the dashboard making it look neat and tidy. The roof-mounted DVD screen once open blocks the rear view visibility. Headrest mounted screens could have been a better bet!

There is no Grand Cherokee SRT8 without the mention of Hemi. Yes, the heart of this beast is the same 6.1-litre Hemi that is found in Jeep’s cousins like the Chrysler 300C SRT8 and the Dodge Charger SRT8. It makes 420bhp of peak power at 6200rpm and pulls strongly with an equally impressive 569Nm of torque at 4800rpm. The powerplant is mated to a 5-speed automatic gearbox that shifts all that power to the Quadra-Trac II active full-time 4WD system. Since there is no ‘low range’ transfer case and hence ideally not meant for off-roading, the 4WD system still is capable of shifting all the torque to the front or rear wheels as conditions dictate.

With the Hemi under the hood, there is some serious math to do. This potent powerplant is capable of some serious number crunching. With a top speed electronically limited to 300kmph, this is one SUV that can put the fears on a Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 can do the 0-100 jig in under 5 seconds and by doing so has stepped into sports car territory! Now, tell me how many SUV’s in stock form can do that? Hit on the gas pedal and the SRT8 just digs in and takes off in full glory. The run up to the desired speed is quite seamless with fluid gear changes. Jeep has also built in the Autostick option to the gearbox. So if you need that extra bit of control on your beast, the manual shift comes in quite handy, enabling the full potential of using the engine braking.

At speeds above 100kmph, the feedback from the steering, though a bit light for this massive son-of-a-gun, was spot on. The engineers at Jeep have really blown me over with the sport sedan-like handling on the SRT8. There was absolutely no wallowing and the SUV responded well to the whims and fancies of the driver – and there were many, I assure you! Under braking, the Brembo-made four-piston performance brake calipers did their bit well and lived up to their high reputation.

This is one well-sorted performance machine and the lads at the SRT have done a commendable job. They placed importance on the wants of the enthusiast and managed to pull out a real winner. Jeep has made sure that the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is not an also-ran vanity SUV and neither a ‘guess it needs more power’ kind. The product is right there where you want it and spot-on, and with a price tag ranging from 190,000-200,000AED, this Jeep is already eating up into the territory of the Porsche Cayenne S.

Body Type

4×4

Engine (litre)

6.1-litre Hemi

Power (bhp)

420

Torque (Nm)

569

Transmission

5-Speed Automatic

Price (in AED)

190,000-200,000

 

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