From China, with a lot of em­pa­thy for your bud­get, come two value-for-money fam­ily cars, the Corolla com­pet­ing C30 from Great Wall Mo­tors (left)

AMIL UMRAW ad­vises those not in the know to just think of the SRT as the Clarke Kent of SUVs

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

IF I were to say that the ve­hi­cle I’m driv­ing launches to 100 km/h in five sec­onds, wrings it wheels with 624 Nm of torque and fin­ishes a quar­ter mile at 200, what car comes to mind? A tricked out GTI per­haps? Or maybe a first-gen­er­a­tion Lam­borgh­ini Gal­lardo? Well, no.

It’s a big, clumsy sport util­ity ve­hi­cle. But not just any one. This one’s back­side boasts three de­fin­i­tive let­ters cast in sil­ver — SRT.

A few months ago, Jeep, known for its lin­eage in off-road and fam­ily sized tour­ers, an­nounced it would be pro­duc­ing an abom­i­na­tion. They’re call­ing it a Grand Chero­kee SRT Hell­cat, or Track­hawk (the name is yet to be con­firmed), and its ru­moured to be car­ry­ing a su­per­charged 6,2 litre V8.

Whis­pers from deep within the pit where it is be­ing forged say this be­he­moth will be mea­sur­ing 880 Nm of torque and 527 kW on the wheels.

How­ever, we don’t know if it will be ar­riv­ing on South African shores.

But to cel­e­brate such petrol-headed fun, Wheels thought it a good idea to re­mind our­selves just what an SRT is and got be­hind the wheel of the 6,4l V8 Hemi, which was launched lo­cally last year.

At a glance, the SRT looks like any other soc­cer mum’s taxi and could be even mis­taken for a stan­dard model with ad­di­tional ex­te­rior trims. But look­ing closer, you will find two flar­ing nos­trils on the bon­net, ex­haust tips you could fit your fists into and a sports sus­pen­sions sit­ting low on 20” rims.

It’s only when you start it up that you re­alise just how much fun you are about to have.

The SRT is a debonair adonis adorned in a tuxedo and when you plant down your right foot, it rips off its coat and neatly ironed shirt to ex­pose its jump­suit ap­pa­ra­tus un­der­neath. Think of it as the Clarke Kent of SUVs.

Un­like what’s to come, the cur­rent SRT belts out “only” 344 kW and 624 Nm of torque, which cat­a­pults the mus­cu­lar beast to a lim­ited 257 km/h be­fore you can count out the R200 notes in your wal­let to re­fuel the tank again.

And it is not just a straight-line racer that feels bulky on the cor­ners. Switch to the des­ig­nated Track mode and the SRT be­comes a feather-weight, tak­ing cor­ners with com­po­sure and pre­ci­sion.

The eight-speed trans­mis­sion, con­trolled au­to­mat­i­cally or by flappy ped­als, is your best friend for cruising long dis­tances or rock­et­ing be­tween traf­fic lights. But all this power comes at a price.

The low­est av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion I could achieve was 18 l/100 km and at times I was all the way up to 25. It’s worth ev­ery cent, though.

In­side, the SRT does not let lux­ury fall away. There is a com­bi­na­tion of pol­ished steel, car­bon fi­bre, leather and suede. There are sim­ply too many stan­dard fea­tures to men­tion; let’s just say it has all you need and more.

So what do you get for about R1,2 mil­lion?

Firstly, it is a few hun­dred thou­sand cheaper than its Ger­man coun­ter­parts and of­fers the same value for money.

It’s an ex­cep­tional cruiser, a long-dis­tance tourer and a full-blown racer all in one.

But then, for its price some would say they could have all three. I could buy a su­per hatch and an SUV for the price of the SRT. Hell, I could even buy a Sky­line GTR.

But then again, you can’t have a pic­nic for four in the boot of a GTR. Ac­tu­ally, I could have that pic­nic while rac­ing down a drag strip in the SRT, and I’d prob­a­bly win too.

So, even if we do not get the Hell­cat next year, I can safely say I’m rather con­tent with what we have in the Jeep sta­ble right now.

PHOTO: AUTOEVOLUTION.COM

At first glance, the Jeep Grand Chero­kee SRT looks like the SUV that soc­cer mums would drive, un­til it rips of its shirt and burns rub­ber, that is.

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