Jeep supercharges SUV with tarmac-tearing Trackhawk
JEEP Grand Cherokees are popular for their ability to haul. The Trackhawk is just a little more capable than most.
This Jeep is a tow vehicle that dispenses with the towed vehicle. A 2950kg load capacity means it will happily transport a car to the track … but there's not much point pulling a trailer when the lead car is capable of 3.7-second sprints to 100km/h. That's the enigma that is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
The yellow brake calipers and supercharged logos on the doors are the only indication this slab-sided SUV can embarrass sports cars at the drag strip or on a circuit, yet it is equally capable on the morning school run.
As insanely quick as it is, the Trackhawk's $134,900 (plus on-road costs) price earns it the tag of the best value performance SUV on sale in Australia, rather than the outright fastest. The Lamborghini Urus uses a twin-turbo V8 to crack 100km/h in 3.6 seconds, while the electrically motivated Tesla Model X hits triple figures in 3.1 seconds. They cost $390,000 and $256,000 respectively.
What makes the Trackhawk even more impressive is the fact its claimed sprint time is ego-boostingly conservative. Your nanna can match the official 100km/h run on a wet road while darning a sock. In the hands of a professional such as V8 Supercar driver Karl Reindler it can consistently come in under 3.5 seconds and will repeat the feat until the fuel tank empties or the Pirelli tyres turn to slicks.
A 6.2-litre supercharged V8 provides the thrust needed to motivate 2.4 tonnes of American metal. Outputs of 522kW and 868Nm plant the Trackhawk securely in supercar territory.
Standard features include autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot, lane-departure and rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, semi-automated parking, trailer sway control, 8.4-inch infotainment screen with digital radio and smartphone mirroring.
There's also a valet mode that throttles back the Trackhawk's performance for occasions when less-experienced drivers get behind the wheel.
Forged alloy wheels with Pirelli P-Zero tyres are among the few options on the Trackhawk and the $3250 option appeals to about 80 per cent of buyers.
ON THE TRACK
Momentum and mass make the Trackhawk hugely entertaining. It forgoes scalpel-sharp steering response for stupendously quick acceleration in any gear, at any revs.
Rewiring the brain to accept the fact this big SUV is seriously well suspended unlocks a level of handling you won't find this side of a Porsche Cayenne. The Jeep leans into turns but then squats on its adaptive dampers and does its best to defy physics. It grips like an agitated gorilla and it takes a fair bit of provocation to throw offline.
That said, the locomotive level of torque from the supercharged V8 means planting the accelerator too early in a corner inevitably will steer the Trackhawk wide of the apex.
At the pace this Jeep is capable of cornering, that isn't a fun experience. Get it right and you'll be assailed by huge lateral g-forces through the turn, followed by a kick-in-the-pants boost out of the turn.
The brakes are, by necessity, brilliant. Jeep says it takes just 37 metres to pull the Trackhawk up from 100km/h. Expect to be forking out for replacement pads if you regularly do circuit work.
Official fuel use is 16.8 litres/100km and, while potentially achievable, it's a figure that isn't likely to feature on the digital display once you start to tap into that performance.
Our passion for SUVs makes this the future of performance motoring. The Trackhawk is practical and potent in equal measure and the price makes it a compelling choice.
JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE TRACKHAWK
PRICE From $134,900 plus on-roads
WARRANTY 5 years/100,000km
SERVICE INTERVALS 12 months/12,000km; $1975 for 3 years
SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, blind-spot alert, lane-keep assist
ENGINE 6.2L V8 supercharged, 522kW/868Nm