Johannesburg - Although South Africa is losing the Chrysler and Dodge brands, Fiat Chrysler’s local restructure will see the company bolster its Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep product portfolios, and by far the most exciting of these new entrants will be the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Jeep’s 344kW Grand Cherokee SRT is already rather brawny in its own right, but the Trackhawk is on another level altogether, catapulting Jeep right to the top of the SUV foodchain. 

Jeep says the Trackhawk is the world’s most powerful (and fastest-accelerating) series-produced SUV. Its 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine produces a monstrous 527kW and 875Nm. According to Jeep, this SUV can sprint from 0-60mph (96km/h) in 3.5 seconds, while covering the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds and ultimately reaching a top speed of 290km/h.

To put its outputs into perspective, a Bentley Bentayga W12 produces ‘only’ 447kW (albeit also 900Nm), while a Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S is rated at 430kW and 760Nm and the latest Range Rover Sport SVR manages ‘just’ 423kW and 700Nm.

The 6.2-litre engine features numerous high-strength components, including a forged-steel crankshaft designed to withstand the equivalent of five family-sized sedans standing on each forged-alloy piston, as well as specially-treated alloy cylinder heads and sodium-cooled exhaust valves. The 2380cc-per-revolution supercharger can operate at a maximum boost of 11.6 psi.

Power goes to all four wheels through an upgraded eight-speed automatic gearbox and Quadra-Trac on-demand four-wheel-drive system, featuring an electronic limited-slip diff and single-speed ‘active’ transfer case, meaning it can go fast off the beaten track too. To cope with all that urge, Jeep has also strengthened the driveshafts and beefed up the chassis, which includes a Bilstein adaptive damping system.

The suspension, along with the 4WD system, transmission and steering, can be configured through five modes: Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow. The driver can also create a more personalised set-up through the Custom mode.

And no, Jeep didn’t forge the brakes either, the Trackhawk sporting a high-performance Brembo braking system with six-piston calipers and 400mm vented discs up front and four-piston calipers, along with 350mm vented discs at the back.

The Trackhawk rides on 20-inch rims and gets its own unique styling kit, but it is rather subtle considering the performance potential that lies beneath.

It’s even more understated inside where you won’t find any fancy shell seats or other racecar-like touches, but it is rather plush with its Trackhawk-embroidered Nappa leather and suede seats, available in various colour combinations, with subtle sporty touches coming in the form of Light Black Chrome and carbon fibre inlays and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, although admittedly you’ll also find the latter in a Toyota Corolla these days.

As for gadgets, the 21cm Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system comes with what Jeep calls Performance Pages, which gives you various performance timers and gauge readouts, as well as a dynamometer screen.

South African prices and specs will be announced closer to launch, which is scheduled for 2018, likely around mid-year.

On a tamer note, next year will also see the introduction of Jeep’s all-new Compass as well as the next-generation Wrangler, which is also said to include a bakkie variant.

IOL Motoring

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