Jeep's Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the wildest SUV to hit Australia

Just when you thought we'd covered every SUV base, along comes another one to push the boundaries waaaay beyond the outfield.

The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a car that Jeep's Australian brand director, Guillaume Drelon, calls "f***ing insane".

It's not designed to go off-road, it's not particularly comfortable over bumps and it slurps more fuel than some small trucks.

But the Trackhawk can blast out of the blocks with the sort of ferocity that would put some Porsches and Ferraris to shame.

Heart of the matter

The go-fast story starts under the bonnet.

Jeep already does a suitably fast version of the Grand Cherokee in the form of the SRT. It uses a mighty 6.4-litre H emi V8 with 344kW. Not bad.

But in the Trackhawk that engine has been replaced with a supercharged 6.2-litre V8, also in the classic Hemi configuration. It's the same engine used in the Dodge Hellcats in America, the most powerful factory muscle cars ever unleashed.

Power jumps to a monstrous 522kW, more than any other SUV – including the latest Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne.

That also gives it more power than most supercars, including every Porsche; it's only outdone by the upcoming McLaren Senna (597kW), Ferrari 812 Superfast (588kW), Lamborghini Aventador (544kW) and McLaren 720S (530kW).


Cheap torque

It's backed up by 868Nm of torque, the thing that gives you that shove in the back when you first press the accelerator.

And the Trackhawk has plenty of shove, especially when you dial up the launch control system and hold your foot hard on the brake to get the engine in its sweet spot, the car desperate to lunge forward.

In 3.7 seconds you're doing 100km/h, the intensity of the acceleration barely easing as speed is piled on.

Toughening up

It's a ferocious sensation, one that unleashes a lot of energy – and fuel - in a very short time.

Claimed consumption is 16.8 litres per 100km, about double your average family SUV.

And you can use plenty more than that if you regularly enjoy the near-instant response that makes for ruthless punch at any speed.

That equation meant strengthening components to ensure there are no unwanted bangs or breaks.

Hang on tight

Pirelli also developed a specific tune of its P Zero tyre for the Trackhawk, one that can cope with the 2.4 tonnes of relatively high-riding weight at up to 289km/h, the car's claimed top speed.

But there's no hiding from the physics at play when you point it at a corner.

By SUV standards, the Trackhawk nicely resists the urge to lurch and lean, but it's a lively bucking beast with the pace wound up to 10.

An easy ride

Not that it's difficult to control. The natural tendency is for the front tyres to run wide first, gently reminding that you're approaching the limits.

Accelerate hard in a tight corner and 70 per cent of the thrust goes to the rear wheels, the car squatting again as it lunges forward, all the while fighting for grip.

It's a wild ride, but one that somehow challenges you – and manages to elicit a broad smile.

Built for comfort

Despite its focus on straight-line speed the Trackhawk offers plenty of the Grand Cherokee experience, including seating for five and the high-riding body that gives a commanding view of the road.

That means five seats, plenty of leather, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel and an 8.4-inch touchscreen housing an excellent infotainment system.

What it doesn't offer is any ability to do what Jeeps have done since 1941 – go off-road.

The Trackhawk is designed purely for on-road driving, with race tracks its preferred stomping ground.

Bang for buck

That all of this is packaged in a car priced from $134,900 is something of a bargain.

OK, so not everyone will be trading in their Corollas or Mazda3s for a Trackhawk.

But for pure bang for buck, there's not much that gets close. Little wonder Australians are queuing to own one. The Trackhawk has created a new niche that no one knew needed filling.

That's perhaps little surprise: we love SUVs and we love V8s, so combine the two and it's a solid bet. Even before the Trackhawk program was announced Australians were slapping down deposits in the hope to secure one of the first cars into the country.

Early demand suggests Australia will be the second biggest market for what is one of the wildest SUVs every created.

What the…

Of course, in isolation the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk makes no sense.

It's compromised as a performance car, it's compromised as an off-roader and as politically incorrect as some weird mutation of Ricky Gervais, Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump.

That whackiness is also its strange appeal. One fast take-off is enough to get you hooked.

In some ways, it's the Jeep you have when you don't want a Jeep.