Jeep Trackhawk: Driven (down a runway)


Even in the disposable, instant gratification age we currently inhabit, there's no way that six blats down a runway could be seen as a comprehensive test of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Still, there are less entertaining ways to spend a few minutes - and it does have more than 700hp, don't forget - so here goes...

Spoiler alert: the Hellcat-engined 4x4 is fast. Yep, there goes the surprise. And, as is the modern way, it's incredibly easy to go outrageously fast in the Trackhawk, too. It's automatic, all-wheel drive and has launch control. All you need to do is engage the 'Track' mode, press the launch button, hold the brake and then mash the gas like you're Chris Hoy on the leg press. It won't hold the revs, though; once 3,000rpm is on the dial all hell lets loose, the launch mode simply priming all vital internals for that onslaught when it arrives.

It really is an onslaught, too. See the surprise with the Trackhawk is not the performance - 0-60mph in three something seconds now just doesn't have the impact it once did - but that it's delivered with such violence and force. Because this isn't just a 3.5-second dash to 60mph, it's 2.5 tonnes doing a 3.5-second dash to 60mph. Which feels as obscene as it sounds. Only an Urus is quicker of these steroidal school run racers, and that's of course considerably more expensive. Yet only moderately more ostentatious.


Actually, that's a bit unfair. A £90k, 710hp (in case you hadn't heard), 180mph Jeep was never going to be a discreet automobile, was it? It could never be, the sheer size a Grand Cherokee and then the commensurate size of components required to get 5,300lbs to do three miles a minute ensuring a heavyset presence if nothing else. But when a Range Rover Sport SVR can be had with a carbon bonnet from the factory and a Bentayga with 22-inch wheels, the Jeep is almost modest - 20-inch wheels are the same size as a Civic Type R has as standard, and arguably the Trackhawk is no more intimidating than SUVs of half the power.

Big power, big mass cars accelerate in a curious way. In something small and light there's that the initial frenzied burst that tends to tail off almost as soon as it's happened; more power naturally tends to make its presence felt at higher speeds. But combine traction, power and weight, and there's this sense of the world around being consumed by the car and its power, rather than it simply accelerating through: the process is too relentless, too indefatigable to make it seem so prosaic as a car simply gaining speed.

The numbers? Very silly. According to the onboard performance timer - finally a time to use one - the Trackhawk shot down a cold, dewy runway quarter-mile in 11.6 seconds, with a terminal speed of 118mph. When we tested an Audi RS7 Performance at Santa Pod last year, it ran the distance in 11.7 seconds. On the way the Jeep hit 60mph in 3.3 seconds and 100 in eight dead. Eight seconds. There's no impression of it letting up one jot as 120mph is approached at the end of the run, either - 180mph may well take some space (and time), but something in the region of 160 feels eminently achievable.


The speed feels just that absurd from behind the (heated) wheel, the numbers disappearing almost as fast as you can say them up to 70mph. If anything the 'Hawk may prove a tenth or two quicker with a different gearbox; the eight-speed auto is decent, and it's hard to imagine a dual-clutch capable of handling this level of torque, but there are sharper shifting automatics around. Oh yeah, and it sounds awesome, too, in what is surely another considerable shock: V8 rumble, supercharger shriek, every on-green-I'm-going-for-it audio cue you could hope for. Perhaps not as evocative as an SVR, sure, but then what the heck is?

Naturally it would be nice to divulge more detail of the Jeep's dynamic make up, how it fits on a UK road, how it controls that mass and how it all copes in a world beyond an arrow-straight runway. Sadly that's not going to happen today, and potentially not ever given how rare these cars will be. What can be said is that the Trackhawk doesn't feel to have that wondrous dexterity of ride found in some plusher alternatives, their ability to deliver an alluring compromise of comfort and control seemingly not present here. On just the rougher bits of runaway, it's clear that a desire to keep 2,433kg in some sort of check has resulted in a fairly tough ride, even in the more accommodating drive modes. It's something to be aware of if you are taking the plunge, that's for sure.

More pertinently, though, should you take the plunge? Well, it arguably makes more sense than anything else with that outrageous Hellcat powertrain, given this is an official Jeep UK product, in right-hand drive with a manufacturer warranty. There's a semblance of practicality, too, given this is still just a Jeep. And although it is massive, it's not that massive: a Discovery is 150mm longer, 57mm wider and more than 200mm taller. Which is quite a lot. And that doesn't stop people buying Land Rovers, does it?


Alright, so it's pretty difficult to make an objective, rational case for a 710hp, supercharged V8 Jeep that costs £35k more than anything else in range https://www.pistonheads.com/news/american-cars/jeep-cherokee-trackhawk--90k/39226. But then that's probably the point. If you love the idea, then the Trackhawk is exactly as you might expect: quite loud, a bit brash, ruddy fast and immensely likeable. That's with the proviso of not driving the car on the road, which is pretty significant, so don't expect something quite as easy going everyday as an Overland 3.0 CRD. And, surprise number three, the interior doesn't match the European alternatives - who'd have thought?

Kudos must go to Jeep for embarking on something so bold as homologating the Trackhawk for right-hand drive, and anyone not even slightly intrigued by a car this fast (regardless of size or shape) needs to find another website. It's exactly how you might expect a 710hp Jeep to be, with everything good and bad that that entails, and no doubt the few dozen convinced by the idea will be totally enthralled.


SPECIFICATION - JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE TRACKHAWK
Engine:
6,166cc supercharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 710@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 645@4,800rpm
0-62mph: 3.7sec
Top speed: 180mph
Weight: 2,433kg (kerb)
MPG: 20.4 (claimed)
CO2: TBC
Price: £89,999

 

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Comments (36) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Nerdherder 08 Dec 2018

    Brutal. Still waiting for a mid engined supercar with this engine.

  • saxy 08 Dec 2018

    MY first thought was why is it slower than the less powerful Urus both to 60 and to the 1/4. But then, yeah VW group have a habit of under rating their turbo engines. The Urus may actuallly have 700hp with a stronger torque band, and better gearbox

  • Plug Life 08 Dec 2018

    PistonHeads said:
    Because this isn't just a 3.5-second dash to 60mph, it's 2.5 tonnes doing a 3.5-second dash to 60mph. Which feels as obscene as it sounds. Only an Urus is quicker of these steroidal school run racers, and that's of course considerably more expensive.
    You conveniently forgot about the Tesla Model X P100D which wipes its arse with both (3.1s 0 to 62)...

  • spookly 08 Dec 2018

    Plug Life said:
    PistonHeads said:
    Because this isn't just a 3.5-second dash to 60mph, it's 2.5 tonnes doing a 3.5-second dash to 60mph. Which feels as obscene as it sounds. Only an Urus is quicker of these steroidal school run racers, and that's of course considerably more expensive.
    You conveniently forgot about the Tesla Model X P100D which wipes its arse with both (3.1s 0 to 62)...
    Yeah, but the model X is ugly. That Jeep and Urus aren't pretty, but the model X is gopping. Interesting technology, but awful looking.

  • Krikkit 08 Dec 2018

    Plug Life said:
    You conveniently forgot about the Tesla Model X P100D which wipes its arse with both (3.1s 0 to 62)...
    I don't think anyone picking from the range of mega 4x4's like this would substitute a massive engine for Tesla.

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