Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk: Muscle SUV tested
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The term muscle car should no longer be solely attached to two-door coupes. Primarily because Jeep will now sell you an SUV which pumps out over 500kW of power from a Hemi V8, blurring the lines between family and performance car in the process.
Jeep has always catered to those looking for a spacious, well-appointed, V8-powered SUV with the SRT. In MY18 trim it packs a 6.4-litre naturally aspirated V8 producing a not-so-insignificant 344kW of power and 624Nm of torque, enough oomph to move the 2.4-tonne SUV from a standstill to the legal motorway speed limit in under 5 seconds.
Yet, as it turns out, those figures are not enough to quench our thirst for performance. So in 2018 the SRT has been moved down one spot in Jeep’s Grand Cherokee line-up, replaced by the new Trackhawk, with over 30 per cent more power and torque thanks to FCA’s latest supercharged V8.
The engine was developed for the American market two-door Dodge Hellcat and four-door Charger, and now it has made its way to New Zealand’s booming SUV market thanks to Jeep NZ.
While the Trackhawk’s appearance is completely in tune with the rest of the Grand Cherokee range, under the hood and behind the wheel it’s a completely different animal to any of its siblings, all due to that new engine.
After two years of development and testing, Jeep engineers have tuned the Trackhawk to land in local dealerships with 527kW of power and 875Nm of torque from a supercharged 6.2-litre Hemi V8 — more punch then the new Lamborghini Urus “super SUV” or McLaren 720S supercar.
The engine is mated to a heavily strengthened eight-speed automatic transmission and Jeep’s Quadra-trax four-wheel-drive system. The updated power and drivetrain mean the Trackhawk shaves over one second off the SRT’s 0 to 100km/h time (3.7 seconds verses 4.9 seconds) but in reality the gap is even wider, as even I could achieve a time of 3.5 seconds at Phillip Island raceway in Australia during the model’s launch.
Take the Trackhawk to a dragstrip and you can expect the SUV to complete a standing quarter mile in 11.6 seconds, and if you find a strip long enough you’ll be free to find an unlimited top speed of 290km/h.
A centre 8.4-inch touchscreen display also features Trackhawk-exclusive performance pages that show real-time performance figures, engine management readouts and the ability to adjust the RPM limiter for the launch control system.
It’s not all about outright speed.The Trackhawk is equally impressive in the corners with Blistein adaptive suspension and bespoke Pirelli tyres more capable of keeping the SUV planted flat under high loads.
Jeep have fitted the Trackhawk with the largest brake calipers it’s ever used on a production road car (15.75-inch front and 13.78-inch rear) which will bring the SUV from 100km/h to a stop in under 35 meters.
The cabin boasts bespoke Trackhawk steering wheel, nappa leather seats, and carbon fibre trim pieces scattered throughout.
But after racking up plenty of miles on-track, I feared the Trackhawk would feel out of place on the road. The supercharged Hemi V8 literally shakes the SUV at a standstill, making it feel like you’re sitting in a top-fuel dragster at an intersection.
But leave the Trackhawk in Auto and it can deal with traffic and bumpy roads without fuss. The only problem is the itch to push the pedal harder.
Up-to-date safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and emergency braking are needed for a car with a speedometer that runs up to 330km/h and add to the Trackhawk’s everyday appeal.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Pro: Segment-leading performance, muscle car noise and on-road comfort
Con: Don’t expect it to drink less than 20L/100km