Driven: 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Not too long ago, the ability to hit 100 km/h in less than five seconds was an incredible feat. Performance cars like the Ferrari 360 Modena and BMW M5 (E39) were part of that exclusive club, hitting the hallowed figure in 4.3 and 4.8 seconds, respectively.
Even by modern standards, those are still mightily fast vehicles. But in 2021, any number of performance SUV’s can give them a run for their money. In fact, some of them can even better that figure.
Cars like the Lamborghini Urus, BMW X5 M and Maserati Levante Trofeo can all blitz towards 100 km/h in less than four seconds - impressive stuff, especially when you consider their sheer weight and size. Still, they come from brands that are known for their performance, so it should come as no surprise that the performance SUV has evolved into a supercar slayer (in a straight line, at least).
Some, though, hail from manufacturer’s with very little racing pedigree. While Jeep has had a brief flirtation with performance (in the shape of the SRT-8 Grand Cherokee), it could never really cut the mustard when measured against an X5 M or ML63 AMG. However, that didn’t stop Jeep from going one step further. Usually focused on off-roading prowess and luxury, engineers at the Toledo-based car maker have shoehorned an absolute cracker of an engine under the bonnet of the latest Grand Cherokee.
Known simply as the ‘Hellcat’, the gargantuan 6.2-litre V8 petrol engine uses a supercharger to produce an incredible 522 kW of power and an earth-shattering 874 Nm of torque. Sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic, Jeep’s rocketship is able to shift to 100 km/h in a mere 3.5 seconds. That’s impressive for any car, especially one that tips the scales at two and a half tons and has plenty of space for five.
Acceleration is brutal, taking off with the violence and sharpness of an electric vehicle. But where silence would accompany an EVs journey to its top speed, the sheer growl of the V8 and shrill whine of the supercharger dominate everything. It sounds guttural, like a proper muscle car. Most of the time, it’s an aural pleasure. At times though, it can get a touch tiresome.
So what’s the rest of the car like? Well, it’s certainly not built for the bends. Unlike a Stelvio QV or BMW X3 M Competition, the Trackhawk falls short in the twisties. It’s certainly not built to be a canyon carver - oh no, this is one for straight-line speed. And it does that, brilliantly. It will hurtle itself toward the horizon at breakneck speed until it reaches its 290 km/h top speed.
The interior is pretty much the same as the regular Grand Cherokee model. Outdated in many places, with a few cheap plastics. But in the Trackhawk derivative, nearly every surface (including the bucket seats) is covered in the plushest leather. It’s wonderfully sumptuous, with most surfaces being a joy to touch. Build quality seems to be rather impressive, with interior weak points being the outdated infotainment system.
The elephant in the room is undoubtedly the Trackhawk’s monumental thirst. Jeep claims an already absurd fuel consumption figure of 17.7 L/100 km. That is achievable, but only if you drive it like an economy car. Enjoy the V8 and the glorious sound, and you’re looking at a fuel consumption figure closer to 25 L/100 km.
Objectively, the Trackhawk is a wasteful, unnecessary SUV that serves no purpose. It’s flashy, loud, wasteful, and very expensive. But from behind the wheel, as a piece of automotive work, it’s fabulous. It’s one last hurrah for the loud and brash V8, before electric cars become the norm. It’s a lot of fun, too - and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes, it can’t hold a candle to the more sophisticated X5 and co, but it has a charm that not even the Urus can match. It’s unapologetic and for that reason, we absolutely adore it.