The 2014 Jeep Grand Chero­kee has in­cred­i­ble off-road ca­pa­bil­i­ties and also makes for a good city run­about.

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

En­hance­ments for the 2014 Jeep Grand Chero­kee SRT8 model in­clude a new, fully elec­tronic eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that de­liv­ers im­proved fuel econ­omy. Which means you will now be able to cover a dis­tance of 100km for just Dh40. Emi­rates will fly you busi­ness class to Lon­don on an Air­bus A380 for Dh50 per 100km. Clearly Detroit’s plan to save us money has worked.

In­stead of vo­ra­ciously glug­ging and slurp­ing 24 litres of 98 Oc­tane per 100km, this Hemi-in-a-semi now sips – pinky fin­ger raised and all – merely 22 litres ev­ery 100km. Three cheers for good ol’ ’Mer­i­can thrifti­ness.

To be fair, what did you ex­pect from 470 horse­power, a dis­place­ment of 6.4-litres, 630Nm of torque from 4,300rpm, per­ma­nent all-wheel drive and a weight mea­sured in ex­a­tons? A 10 per cent sav­ing in fuel thanks to a 60 per cent in­crease in gear ra­tios is pretty good go­ing…

So yes, now the 2014 Jeep SRT8 has added three more gears to the an­cient five-speed unit – not lit­er­ally; this is an all-new trans­mis­sion. This great gear­box likes per­cent­ages very much: it can tow 44 per cent more stuff for a 2,269kg to­tal. In other words, if you cheat only a lit­tle your Jeep SRT8 can tow a Jeep SRT8. That’s handy; you can use one as a daily driver and the other as a drag car.

See, there is a knob on the tun­nel con­sole – not ter­ri­bly er­gonomic since some of the la­bels are hid­den out of view – that you can twist left to a Track set­ting and change

trans­fer case pro­por­tion­ing and dy­namic con­trols with 70 per cent of the torque sent to the back wheels.

The new in­stru­ment gauge clus­ter hous­ing a 7in full-colour cus­tomis­able dis­play will play along with a che­quered flag mo­tif and an il­lus­tra­tion of an SRT8 ready to pounce. Just be­hind the T-han­dle shifter is a new Launch Con­trol but­ton, com­plete with a drag strip Christ­mas tree. This func­tion ties to­gether the new trans­mis­sion, engine, driv­e­line, sta­bil­ity con­trol and sus­pen­sion for a text­book launch so you don’t end up on a car meme.

They’ve re­ally, re­ally put an aw­ful lot of thought into drag rac­ing a Jeep Grand Chero­kee.

Granted, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo would eat it alive, and then pick its teeth with the Hemi’s soli­tary camshaft. Yup, pushrod… Which means a Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat has more valves, but it cer­tainly doesn’t have them sodium-filled and with hol­low stems. The ex­haust also has ac­tive valves so the Hemi sounds nice, and with 470bhp you know the power is al­ways there even if the ve­hi­cle’s weight is more ap­par­ent.

Yet it drives and han­dles like it shouldn’t – Pirelli’s ex­cel­lent and no doubt ex­pen­sive Scor­pi­ons surely have a lot do with that, con­tain­ing the big SUV well through the cor­ners and pro­vid­ing a pleas­ant, com­fort­able, fam­ily-car ex­pe­ri­ence on the high­way daw­dle.

The steer­ing is heavy – sur­prise, sur­prise, with those 295 sec­tion tyres up front. But the car’s turn­ing cir­cle is re­mark­ably ac­com­mo­dat­ing around town at 11.3m.

It’s per­fectly fine around park­ing lots too, with good vis­i­bil­ity, per­cep­ti­ble ex­trem­i­ties and park­ing beeps as well as a clear pic­ture in the new 8.4in in­fo­tain­ment screen. This is a neat dis­play, user-friendly and con­cise with new SRT-ex­clu­sive Per­for­mance Pages show­ing you all your re­cent lap times, lat­eral ac­cel­er­a­tion, 0-100kph runs. Got to keep track of those Yas Ma­rina splits af­ter all…

Other changes for 2014 in­clude a new leather-wrapped shifter, SRT three-spoke flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel with pad­dles and a host of ex­te­rior up­dates.

Jeep de­sign­ers spruced up this 2014 model with a new sig­na­ture LED lamp treat­ment, a dif­fer­ent grille and more ag­gres­sive lower air in­takes, plus a new rear spoiler.

The 20in wheels are the same be­cause they’ve al­ways looked great in their satin fin­ish, cowl­ing Brembo six-pis­ton front brakes and four-pot rears mea­sur­ing 381mm and 343mm re­spec­tively. I tested them and they make the car stop. But most of all, they make it go: press Launch, hold down the mid­dle pedal, step on the ac­cel­er­a­tor, un­leash the Brem­bos and with the dive and squat of this thing, you quite lit­er­ally have lift-off.

The Grand Chero­kee fea­tures a new 8.4in in­fo­tain­ment screen, show­ing ev­ery­thing from lap times to 0-100kph runs

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