SRT bucking the trend

THE new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT has bucked the downsizing trend with a larger and more powerful V8 under its bonnet - but most of the time it works as a V4.

The clever new engine uses technology already seen on several other high-end cars over the last two years, where four cylinders are shut off on a light throttle input.

However, unlike other systems, the Grand Cherokee SRT’s 6.4-litre Hemi V8 is designed to maintain four-cylinders-only operation for as much of the time as possible.

This sort-of-admirable nod towards the environment will reward buyers with a heady claimed average of 14.1mpg, with CO2 listed at 328g/km. Not for the tight-of-wallet, then.

With potential for 461bhp and 460lb.ft with all eight cylinders singing, the 2.36-tonne SRT hits 62mph in five seconds and reaches a 160mph top speed.

Its permanent four-wheel-drive system’s default set-up delivers equal torque to the front and rear wheels, but it can be biased 65% towards the rear for a more aggressive drive.

Chrysler is very keen to put the Grand Voyager SRT across as a driver’s car, with an electronic limited-slip differential and F1-style paddle-shift technology. The old-tech five-speed automatic gearbox and minimum requirement for ‘premium’ 91-octane petrol tell a different story, though. Inside the car is packed with luxury gizmos and leather upholstery.

The company has thrown everything it has at the car, to make it a flagship with a capital FLAGSHIP. And the price?

A relatively modest £58,995, which is actually remarkable value for the very small number of likely buyers, to whom the recession was probably a mere irritation.

Nonetheless, it’s a lot of performance SUV for the money.