Jeep’s SRT Night is big and tough

Pilbara News - - Pilbars Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

There is no such thing as a shy and re­tir­ing owner of a Jeep Grand Chero­kee. It’s a big 4WD with tough styling that’s backed up by strong off-road abil­ity.

How­ever, not ev­ery­one wants to go off the beaten track in their Grand Chero­kee, pre­fer­ring to cruise on the black stuff and im­press other Jeep own­ers. Which brings us to the sub­ject of this week’s road test ma­chine — a Jeep Grand Chero­kee SRT Night.

It’s a fac­tory-pro­duced spe­cial from Sport and Rac­ing Tech­nol­ogy the high-per­for­mance di­vi­sion of Chrysler Jeep. Based on the stan­dard SRT, the Night is priced at $97,000 plus on-road costs.

A ma­jor ad­van­tage of get­ting fac­tory-fit­ted parts is you’re get­ting quality ex­tras that are cov­ered by war­ranty. Some after-mar­ket com­po­nents may not be built to Jeep stan­dards, and are un­likely to have as long a war­ranty.

Re­ally lift­ing the look of the al­ready-tough stan­dard Grand Chero­kee, the SRT Night edi­tion has black 20-inch 10-spoke wheels, blacked out ar­eas of the front grille, black leather in­te­rior trim and other dark touches. The red Brembo brakes are re­ally high­lighted by the black wheels.

Black La­guna leather in­te­rior up­hol­stery has sil­ver ac­cent stitch­ing. Black chromed and an­odised sil­ver bezels add to the ef­fect.

A large, dark­ened, two-pane sun­roof lets the sun­shine in. The moon­light as well, our road test week co­in­cided with a bright full moon and the ef­fect was ex­cel­lent.

Jeep Grand Chero­kee SRT uses the com­pany’s Ucon­nect 8.4-inch touch­screen ra­dio with DAB+, Aux, Blue­tooth and USB con­nec­tions. A pow­er­ful Har­man Kar­don 825-watt, 19-speaker pre­mium au­dio sys­tem is part of the in­fo­tain­ment pack­age.

How­ever, we found our­selves lis­ten­ing far more of­ten to the su­per­size V8 en­gine rather than the au­dio sys­tem.

Jeep Grand Chero­kee SRT Night is pow­ered by the com­pany’s big 6.4-litre V8, pro­duc­ing 344kW and 624Nm. Drive is, nat­u­rally, to all four wheels.

Chero­kee SRT Night has a re­vised in­stru­ment clus­ter, with the tacho in the cen­tre, and the speedo to the left side of the clus­ter.

The speedome­ter is rather small and hard to read. For­tu­nately, it’s backed up by a dig­i­tal read­out low down in the tacho seg­ment.

All Jeep Grand Chero­kee models have a five-star safety rat­ing from ANCAP. Sec­ondary safety fea­tures in­cludes seven airbags (mul­ti­stage driver and front pas­sen­ger), front seat side airbags, cur­tain airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag.

Pri­mary safety, the abil­ity to stay out of trou­ble in any cor­rectly driven per­for­mance ve­hi­cle is there.

Jeep SRT Per­for­mance Pages has a large ar­ray of timers and gauge read­outs. The Cus­tom set­ting lets you ad­just the drive ex­pe­ri­ence to suit.

Mul­ti­ple drive modes let you con­trol the all-wheel-drive sys­tem, trans­mis­sion, pad­dle shifters, sta­bil­ity con­trol, sus­pen­sion and steer­ing. They are con­fig­ured for Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow set­tings.

A few months back Jeep Aus­tralia took us to Western Syd­ney Mo­tor­sport Park at Eastern Creek and let us loose on the dragstrip.

We reg­is­tered a best time of 13.2 sec­onds for the quar­ter mile, get­ting to 100km/h just 4.6 sec­onds after the green lights flashed.

Sticky tar­mac at the start line gave our SRT Night added trac­tion in the crit­i­cal first few mo­ments.

Nor­mal road ac­cel­er­a­tion is likely to be slightly slower.

In nor­mal driv­ing, en­gine ac­cel­er­a­tion is im­me­di­ate, show­ing the ad­van­tage of hav­ing a big-cube nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8 in­stead of a tiny turbo en­gine that has to ad­just the tur­bocharger revs and the trans­mis­sion elec­tron­i­cally be­fore giv­ing its best. Turbo lag — we hate it.

Then there’s the sound of a big high-per­for­mance Jeep V8 en­gine.

It roars when you re­ally get stuck into it.

Jeep’s eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion gets the mes­sage quickly and adds to the driv­ing ex­cite­ment by rapidly slam­ming down through the gears.

Away from the drag strip and on to nor­mal roads we found the big Jeep sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able in its ride, though some ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in sur­faces can make it a bit jig­gly at times.

Han­dling is very good for a heavy, high-rid­ing 4WD but it’s cer­tainly not a sports ma­chine in the twisty stuff.

Pic­tures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

Big and bold, there’s noth­ing quite like US mus­cle cars — or 4WDs. Take this ul­tra-hot Jeep SRT Night as a clas­sic ex­am­ple.

The SRT Night edi­tion has black 20-inch 10-spoke wheels.

The Grand Chero­kee has black leather in­te­rior trim and other dark touches.

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