FRONT RUNNER - Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

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FRONT RUNNER - Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

The 522kw Trackhawk has set an SUV Speed Record on Ice of Lake Baikal

While you could be mistaken for thinking that this is a scene from an upcoming Fast and Furious movie, it is not. Instead, a bunch of crazy Russians decided to equip themselves with one of the world’s most powerful SUVs, and unleash it on 12 kms of frozen ice on Lake Baikal, in an attempt to set a new world record.

According to data confirmed by the Russian Automobile Federation (RAF), the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk was able to achieve an average speed over a distance of 1 km of more than 257kph with a rolling start and an average speed starting from a standstill of more than 100kph. The maximum speed on ice according to GPS trackers was 280kph.

Because of this, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk once again backs up its claim as the most powerful mass-produced SUV in the world. Under the bonnet is a monstrous V8 engine that produces an incredible 522kw and 875nm. As a result, the ‘King of SUVs’ runs the benchmark 0-100kph sprint in just 3.5 seconds, dusts the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds, and tops out at 290kph.

Whereas the regular Grand Cherokee SRT uses a naturally-aspirated 6.4-litre V8 to produce 344kw and 624nm, the Trackhawk dwarf’s its sibling with its stupendous amount of power. In fact, the only performance SUVs that comes close in terms of performance is the R3.5 million Lamborghini Urus which produces 478kw and the R4 million Bentley Bentayga whose 6.0-litre W12 powerplant produces 447kw.

To put things into perspective, the Trackhawk is more powerful than most exotic supercars. After all, Dodge transplanted the supercharged 6.2-litre V8 from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat into the Grand Cherokee. But unlike the Hellcat, the Trackhawk sends power to all four wheels, via an upgraded TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. Handling is enhanced by the fitment of Bilstein adaptive damping suspension, with the Selec-Trac system offering five drive modes.

Participation in this event meant a serious load on the braking system due to the specifics of the Baikal ice. In sunlight, the surface of the lake is covered in a film of water, which reduces grip on the surface. However, even in such conditions, the Trackhawk demonstrated excellent results when braking thanks to its Brembo brake system, which uses large front brakes.

Traction was granted by the Jeep Quadra-Trac on-demand four-wheel-drive system, which includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential and a single-speed active transfer case, and the Selec-Track system with five dynamic modes - Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow - which allows for the driver to choose a vehicle setting that ideally meets any requirement and ambient conditions including ice driving.

Before the race, unnecessary items were removed from the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and it was checked that the fuel level was sufficient. All the runs were conducted in line with the regulations of the Russian Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The maximum average speed was counted over a distance of 1 km with a rolling start; the drivers had to cover 1 km in the middle of the track at the maximum possible speed and 1 km from a standing start. The rules also dictated that the timing gates needed to be passed in both directions, with the judges calculating the average result. To allow for the required acceleration and braking, the total length of the course was 12 km.

The Speed Days on the Baikal Ice festival were first held in 2011. Over eight years, more than 20 speed records have been set on the Baikal ice in different categories of vehicles. All runs are traditionally conducted on natural bare ice and preparation of the route is limited to the removal of obstacles (packed snow, hummocks) affecting safety for drivers and judges. Achievements are recorded by licensed judges from the Russian Automobile Federation using timekeeping equipment approved by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).

In South Africa, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is priced at R2.2 million, and is available in nine exterior colours: Billet Silver, Granite Crystal, Diamond Black, Ivory Tri-coat, Bright White, Velvet Red and True Blue. The SUV comes standard with every ‘possible option’ fitted as standard, with the only optional extras being a choice of exclusive colours – Rhino and Redline 2.

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