The noise! Oh good Lord, the noise!
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is one of those cars that’s totally dominated by its engine, a 6.4-litre V8 Hemi serving up 468bhp, 460lb/ft and a noise like the Norse god Odin laughing hysterically.
A 0-62mph time of five seconds flat is claimed and feels entirely believable. Even without flooring the throttle, it gathers pace at a slightly alarming rate. The SRT8 isn’t the fastest SUV in the world, but there’s a gleeful unruliness about its performance that the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Sport SVR can’t quite match. It’s like the kid who brags about getting sent to the headmaster’s office.
Then there’s the fuel economy. Treat the throttle like a landmine and it might get close to the claimed 20.8mpg. But pressing on sends the average plunging towards single figures. The aforementioned Cayenne and RRS are no better, mind.
Handling is a bit remote. Body control is good and the steering direct, but you sit very high and very far away from the front wheels. It flows down a wide open road extremely rapidly and is even acceptably nimble when the road turns twisty. There’s just not much communication between it and the helm. And, thanks to the enormous tyres, it is completely flummoxed by anything other than a glass-smooth road, pulling and weaving along every line and ridge.
While a vast improvement on previous generations of Grand Cherokee, the interior isn’t up to the standards expected of a car carrying a £66,000 price tag. It’s well-laid out and solidly screwed together, but the material quality is below par. The infotainment system has clear graphics and navigation, and a responsive 7in touchscreen; far too many warning notices, though.
There’s more than enough passenger and boot space to deal with family life and the ride is comfortable, the damping having a sophistication often lacking in American cars.
The styling, though, is very American. The Grand Cherokee is a big car with a huge grille that isn’t diminished at all by the SRT8’s black trim. It’s an intimidating presence on the road and stands out a mile in this car’s candy red hue.
It’s hugely charismatic, the Grand Cherokee SRT8. Brash and flawed in dynamics and quality, but every journey is an event. For the noise, if nothing else. Which will be enough of a reason to buy it for some people.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4 V8 HEMI SRT8
Engine: 6.4-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; four-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 468bhp; 460lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 20.8mpg; 315g/km
Top speed: 160mph
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By Only Motors