Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng / Calvin Chan
Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. Take the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT for example. To enlist in the war against other nonsensical who-knew-there-was-a-market-for-these high-performance SUVs, Jeep caved into the pressure and turned their beloved terrain-conquering Grand Cherokee into a four-door hot rod. They added a stiffer and lower suspension, bigger Brembo brakes, racy exterior upgrades, revised the steering, and spiced things up with an enormous 6.4-litre HEMI V8 engine– think of it like the AMG equivalent of a Mercedes-Benz.
However, for the sake of adrenaline pumping theatrics the Grand Cherokee SRT sacrifices a bit of its off-roading notoriety for some track-ready muscle. In doing so, the SRT loses its height-adjustable suspension, has less ground clearance, and is also void of any low-range or rock-crawling hill assist functions. Instead of Sand, Mud, and Rock driving modes that you would normally find on your Grand Cherokee, the SRT instead replaces them with Sport and Track. So don’t let the Jeep moniker fool you. This SRT’s preferred playground is the flat paved tarmac, not the hills of Moab. But you really can’t expect it to have the best of both worlds – that’s Range Rover territory. Instead, you get a different kind of fun from this rocket-powered Jeep.
The Grand Cherokee SRT brings the fight to the German elite - the BMW X5 M that we tested last week, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG – they’ve all got leather seats, a huge trunk, room for five passengers, four-wheel drive, and an absurd amount of horsepower. These performance-focused nuclear rigs don’t ford rivers or crawl rocks - in fact they don’t make much sense at all. Why would anyone be interested in purchasing these expensive SUVs? Well, they do it for the status, the road presence, the thrill of the drive, and the peace of mind knowing that you can hit 0-100 km/h faster than most sports cars.
The Grand Cherokee SRT just happens to be the most sensible of the bunch, sporting an MSRP of almost half of the others. As a matter of fact, the Grand Cherokee SRT only costs as much as a base BMW X5 with an inline-six motor. However, the real charm of the SRT not its economical price tag, but it is what’s under the hood: a roaring 6.4-litre HEMI V8 engine.
We loved the Grand Cherokee’s EcoDiesel engine that we tested out a couple weeks ago - it had legions of torque and was great on fuel but in terms of excitement, it pales in comparison with this rigorous V8 motor. This large-displacement HEMI is the same eight-cylinder engine found in the Challenger Scat Pack but with a little less power. It’s also a few decibels quieter – blame it on the amazing cabin insulation and the new Active Noise Cancellation feature. For 2015, the Grand Cherokee SRT gets a mild but welcoming power boost up to 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque (up 5 hp and 5 lb-ft). This big and bold Jeep falls short of the 500 hp+ milestone and it lacks of the oomph and instant pull offered by a turbocharged V8, but this naturally aspirated beauty still throws you to the back of your seat with noise and authority. It’s even got a launch control mode.
Harmonizing this nuclear power is the work of an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that is also used in the infamous Hellcat twins. It’s a brilliant gearbox that’s not only tuned for efficiency, but is also capable of revving gears out to their maximum and quickly swapping them. I prefer this 8-speed over the other 9-speed automatics used in the Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler 200 sedans. It doesn’t hunt for gears and instead delivers smooth and unnoticeable gear changes. This formidable transmission paired with such a torque-filled engine turns the SRT into the perfect highway warrior.
The only thing I don’t like about this transmission is the pistol-grip gear shifter located in the center console. It’s an awkward design that isn’t exactly the most ergonomic. The release button is not the easiest to press down with your thumb, and it’s incredibly difficult to make three-point turns when the lever prefers lodging itself into Park rather than Reverse.
Trading an off-road chassis setup for a lowered and stiffened sport suspension tells you a lot about the SRT. Surprisingly, the ride is a lot comfier than the one in the X5 M we recently tested. The SRT also turns in very well, the steering wheel feels perfectly weighted and communicative, and it feels light on its feet. The steering does get extremely heavy at low speeds however, i.e. when parking. Jeep has also equipped their super-SUV with colossal Brembo brakes that are almost as large as the Hellcat’s. They have major stopping power and only a little bit of pedal travel is needed to get this 2,336 kg behemoth to a halt.
And like the Hellcat, ECO mode was my preferred driving mode when casually cruising around town. I love how the throttle response gets dialed back and it makes the SRT feel like it’s got a much more controllable 300 horsepower. The V8 engine will also cut down half of its cylinders when they’re not needed to save on fuel.
Speaking of which, the one major downside of these performance SUVs is the amount of money you’ll be spending on fuel - large engines and a hefty body don’t exact go hand in hand. We averaged 12.0 L/100km on the highway and 18.9 L/100km in the city. We spent around $120 this week on 91-octane gas alone.
In the looks department, the SRT treatment has done the Grand Cherokee a handsome favour. They’ve added dual heat extractors on the hood, a bolder front and rear fascia, blacked out grills and headlights, and trumpet-like exhausts popping out the rear. Too bad there’s only two of them – a quad exhaust would look so damn good on this thing. Supporting this brick-shaped Stormtrooper are sinister looking 20-inch wheels with a Spider Monkey SRT design ($995) that go hand-in-hand with the SRT’s Bright White paint and blacked-out accents.
The Grand Cherokee SRT may seem all business on the outside but it’s incredibly cozy and homey on the inside. It’s got to be one of the most luxurious Jeeps I’ve ever had the pleasure to review. It’s rugged yet luxurious, and comfortable but still manages to look trendy. Perforated suede and leather seats caress your bottom while snug side bolstering and soft leather armrests support your body. The interior is simplistic but with the help of carbon fibre accents and a liberal use of suede, the SRT pulls off a much more upscale look than the standard Grand Cherokee. It’s not quite German quality but for $65,995, you’re in for quite a bargain.
Forgive my nitpicking, but I was a little disappointed in the lack of side-bolstering adjustment. And while the leather portions of the big meaty steering wheel look and feel good, the plasticky silver flat-bottom is exceedingly slippery and lacks any proper grip. There’s also a shortage of storage areas in the front of the cabin and practically no center console area – it’s occupied by a DVD changer and a remote for the Rear DVD Entertainment Centre ($2,150). This option equips the rear seats with two separate television screens capable of playing your kid’s favourite Blu-rays, but I would strongly advise against it. Kids have figured out how to utilize iPads these days anyways, each costing only $500 a piece. Save the money and opt for the lovely Laguna Leather Seats ($1,500) instead.
Ten years ago, nobody would have guessed that there would be such a large demand for these high-performance SUVs that prefer track over trail. Now there is a garden full of eligible bachelors to choose from, but the Grand Cherokee SRT makes a compelling argument that offers everything you need for nearly half the price of it’s competitors. It delivers a comfortable and sensible package that keeps your money where it’s supposed to be – in the bank. But if you’re more of a traditional Jeep guy and want higher axle ratios, an adjustable air suspension and superior ground clearance, Jeep will happily sell you a Grand Cherokee without the SRT badge.
And with the surprising success of Dodge’s Charger and Challenger Hellcat models, it’s only a matter of time before Jeep caves in and builds itself a Grand Cherokee equipped with that fearsome 6.2-litre V8 Hellcat engine - they just need to figure out how to fit that supercharger under the hood. Whether it will still be called a Hellcat is up for question, but there’s no denying that peer pressure, in some ways more often than not, isn’t always a bad thing.
型号 Model: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
顏色 Paint Type: Bright White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $65,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $76,920
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,915
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,859 / 2,156 / 1,756
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,336
引擎 Engine: 6.4L SRT HEMI V8 with FuelSaver MDS
最大馬力 Horsepower: 475 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 470 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Short and long-arm independent, coil springs, Bilstein adaptive damping suspension, upper and lower-control arms, stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link, coil spring, Bilstein adaptive damping suspension, aluminum lower control arm, independent upper links (tension and camber) plus a separate toe link, stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: 15.0 x 1.34 vented disc with Brembo six-piston caliper
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: 13.78 x 1.10 disc with Brembo four-piston caliper
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 18.5 / 12.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season - P295/45ZR20