Monday April 10, 2017
By Richard Bosselman
MOVE aside Maserati, Porsche, Bentley, Audi and every other high-brow brand with a sporty sports utilities out on the boil – a jeepers creepers monster from Americas blue collar hero brand is claiming the title of world’s fastest SUV.
Fiat Chrysler New Zealand has wasted no time in confirming its intention to sell a performance version of the Grand Cherokee that confirms Jeep’s long-standing promise to create a crazy union between its flagship model and the force-fed 6.2-litre V8 from the Dodge Challenger/Charger Hellcat sedan that is already in local use (albeit as a private import).
The Trackhawk, which Jeep has unveiled ahead of a more fulsome presentation set down for this week’s New York motor show, is an utterly unholy alliance.
The powerplant that produces 527kW of power and a monstrous 874Nm of torque means this 2.3 tonne rig will, Jeep says, vanquish 0-100kmh in 3.6 seconds, cover the quarter mile in 11.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 290kmh.
Which means? Well, it’s just bumped the 449kW Bentley Bentayga for the title of the world's most powerful off-roader and, overseas’ commentators say, eclipses Porsche's upcoming 500kW Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid before it even hits the dirt. Well, tarmac.
What price this utterly mental machine? Good question, but not one FCNZ plans to answer until next year. There’s no hurry, because the monster will not be available to us before then, the Auckland-domiciled has said.
Assuredly, it will be well above the $124,990 tag attached to the Grand Cherokee SRT, which runs a 324kW/624Nm 6.4-litre V8 and runs the zero to open road limit sprint in 4.9s.
For the record, those who have been private importing Dodge Challenger Hellcats have been paying around $130k for that special pleasure.
Good to know that the project, whose birth has occurred exactly 13 months (and 13 days, 13 hours and 13 minutes?) after it was officially acknowledged as a goer by Jeep, isn’t just about super mad stonk.
Jeep has beefed-up the rest of the Grand Cherokee's mechanical package to handle the extra grunt and improve its road holding.
There's a stronger eight-speed automatic, heavy-duty rear axles, specifically-tuned adaptive dampers and lower, stiffer springs in the suspension.
It also takes the biggest brakes ever applied to a Jeep - 400mm two-piece vented front rotors with six-piston callipers and 350mm vented rear rotors with four-piston callipers. These, the brand reckons, will haul the Trackhawk down from 100kmh to a compete stop in just 36 metres.
As these Jeep-supplied images show, the model carries beefed-up bodywork. The front fog lights have been plucked so that the holes can work as extra air vents to the engine intake and intercooler. It also has a vented bonnet that allows for the extraction of hot air generated by the engine.
This version has extra-wide 20-inch alloy wheels and tyres, gloss black body trim and four chrome black exhaust pipes.
Trackhawk gets the same eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission as other Grand Cherokees and runs and on-demand all-wheel drive system.
However, that additional muscularity means the driveline has bulked up. It gets a stronger driveshaft which connects to a new and stronger rear axle.
And why Trackhawk? A name thatJeep apparently had trademarked in 2014 ensures a stretched familial link with versions of Jeeps which are so extra-toughened for off-roading they earn a special badge: Trailhawk.