SRT pours on the awesome sauce
As it were, the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT eats up the 20-turn COTA F1 track like Cookie Monster does chocolate chip cookies – nom nom nom! Gearshifts are so smooth and seamless, the chassis so firmly glued to the tarmac you’d swear this is no SUV. Tooling around on the street, the SRT V8 operates at a very low RPM and produces a nice, deep sound. Out on the 5.47-km (3.4-mile) long track, however, it operates at very highs RPMs and stays in the powerband more where it barks out a fearsome exhaust note. It is no ordinary SUV.
With Select-Track set to track mode and the shifter in Sport mode, it climbs the hill into turn one confidently, even after braking late for the late apex that helps carry speed through the more flowing corners two through five. Carrying too much speed through five can produce understeer and make you late fox six, seven and eight, but this is the slowest part of the track anyhow so sacrificing some speed through here somewhere helps set up for a good run out of nine, through 10 and down the hill into 11, which spills out on to the longest and fastest part of the track.
The SRT V8 and full-time 4×4 system help propel the monster truck to speeds above 210 km/h (130 mph) at the end of the very long back straightaway where the massive Brembo brakes are being put to the test. The 380 mm vented front rotors with six-piston calipers and solid 350 mm rear discs with four-piston calipers have proved they can take some serious abuse too, though do show signs of wear from a week’s worth of being thrashed on by waves of varying degrees of lead-footed journalists.
Those chunky Pirelli P-Zero tires and SRT Bilstein sport suspension prove their worth through the tight and technical turns 12 through 19 where the chassis demonstrates good balance and composure. Though not lightweight by any means, not once does the SRT Jeep feel top heavy. Not even at the edge of the wide run-off zone coming out of the final corner and that final drag race to the start/finish line – it is the stuff dreams are made of. Well done SRT. Bravo.