Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk 2018 UK review
What’s it like?
The Trackhawk’s V8 is the kind of engine that clunks roughly into drive and then doesn’t so much creep as heave its way forward at idle. Thank heaven there’s a warning light to tell you if you’ve left the foot-operated parking brake on, because it might take an awfully long time to notice otherwise.
Despite having a widely leather-bound cabin and a good amount of onboard infotainment tech available, the Trackhawk isn’t a very convincing luxury SUV. Jeep’s interior fittings aren’t very rich or substantial and its infotainment set-up doesn’t exactly flatter a £90,000 luxury car. In fact, a direct comparison between this driving environment and the one in the Audi SQ7 or Porsche Cayenne Turbo wouldn’t be too flattering on the Jeep any which way you looked at it.
There’s also little you could call refined about this car’s driving experience – not that you’d change much about that. The Trackhawk bristles with the vociferous energy of that megastar engine at all times. It rumbles and woofles away on a trailing throttle, only to go through layers of sonic transformation as you probe into the accelerator travel.
The distant whine of that supercharger gets gently faded up as you tip into the pedal, getting louder through the middle of the range, only for more crackling combustion noise to come fighting back as you begin to feel the carpet under the edges of your shoe. Few modern performance engines are as characterful, as exciting or as wonderfully, rabidly genuine to listen to. And I’m not sure if any provides a more incongruous or improper-feeling turn of speed, which builds to a deliciously dramatic and noisy crescendo at high revs like the perfect antidote to the modern sledgehammer turbo V8.
The Grand Cherokee’s chassis works well enough as a delivery mechanism for the charms of that engine up to a point, although it’s hardly what the engine deserves. Some seriously uncompromising suspension spring rates attempt to cover for the absence of many of the technologies that help the Jeep’s rivals to apparently defy physics and handle so well, such as active anti-roll bars, proper torque vectoring and four-wheel steering. And so the Trackhawk’s low-speed ride is fidgety and brusque, and higher-speed composure is less than assured at times. The suspension has adaptive dampers, but the Jeep still lacks the breadth of range that might otherwise allow you to relax at the wheel and cover big miles at a fast, effortless stride.
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