WILDEST SUV, EVER? According to Jeep, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the world's fastest SUV ever. Image: Jeep
London - Most leading automotive brands – and by that we mean ‘German’ – are predicting that half their future sales will be SUVs. The sedan is under threat and everybody wants some ground clearance, for no clear purpose, but they desire it none the less.
If you are an automotive brand with SUV DNA, it’s a great heritage to leverage in the current market and few brands have more distinguished SUV DNA than Jeep.
Jeep isn’t big on hybrid SUVs, though. It’s no surprise, as neither is its parent company, Chrysler, a brand which still believes the V8 will triumph and as such – can’t really be bothered with selling hybrids. So, despite this week’s New York auto show being hosted in a city which obsesses about sustainability and is rather anti-car, Jeep though it a great venue to reveal its Trackhawk.
The wildest Jeep of all
The name might be a touch silly, but the product offering is remarkable. How so? Well, this is the world’s fastest SUV. In a market with many AMG, Porsche and now, Bentley, SUV rivals, that is a terribly bold claim to make. Jeep, though, is at absolutely no risk of being embarrassed. Its Trackhawk is rated at being a 3.7 sec 0-100km/h machine.
Enabling that amazing pace is a supercharged 6.2-litre V8, first seen in Chrysler’s Hellcat, and simply one of the most ridiculously fantastic performance engines currently in production. Good for 527kW/875Nm, it’s more powerful than any current AMG or Porsche – and we are not merely referring to SUVs. This Jeep is more powerful than any of current German production road car.
Amazingly, Jeep engineers have managed to manufacturer specific half- and driveshaft components for the Trackhawk, capable of withstanding its immense engine outputs, enabling the all-wheel drive system to function unburdened, guaranteeing true catapult traction off the line.
The eight-speed automatic transmission has a default torque distribution channel of 40/60 amongst the front and rear axles, though this can be altered to 30/70, gifting Trackhawk a slightly less all-wheel drive understeer bias to its turn-in characteristics at speed. If you have the requirement to mine sand, there’s a locked centre-differential too, though we suspect the only dunes sufficiently steep and high enough to challenge Trackhawk’s off-road ability could be on Mars.
Beyond donating the phenomenal V8 engine, There are clever technical solutions Trackhawk has inherited from the Hellcat too, such as the two-stage ignition system, which primes the V8s compressor, ensuring it charges fully-spooled, ready to boost, from idle.
Quicker than a Bentayga but faster?
Perhaps Trackhawk’s only true rival is Bentley’s Bentayga, with its 447kW W12. Although slower to the benchmark 100km/h from rest at 4-seconds dead, the Bentley has greater aerodynamic efficiency, hence its 300km/h top speed. That said, Trackhawk hardly cedes an embarrassing margin to the Britt, being capable of 289km/h itself.
It stops rather abruptly too, decelerating from 100km/h to zero in only 34m, thanks in no small part to the largest brake discs ever fitted to a Jeep: enormous 400mm Brembos.
In a world where all brands are attempting to offer greater high-performance SUV options, Jeep has not so much fired a shot across the bow of German ambitions, it’s sunk the claims of Audi, AMG, BMW and Porsche with a blown V8 broadside.