ALREADY able to murder a quarter mile sprint, Jeep's range-topping luxury offering just got even more sinister.
The limited edition SRT Night has brashly arrived out of the shadows wearing distinctive black features.
Hailed as the most powerful SUV available for less than $100,000, you get a hulking Hemi V8 to sprint from to 100kmh in less than five seconds all while wearing a darker aesthetic.
For $97,000 plus on-roads you'll get one of only 158 models to be brought to Australia.
So what would you do with an SUV with all that muscle and bravado? We took it to the drag strip just to see if the SRT Night can live up to the bad-arse hype.
Lashings of luxury feature across the Grand Cherokee range, and the SRT models get all the bells and whistles.
This is no bare bones Jeep with its Laguna leather trim with contrasting stitching, SRT logos on the doorsills and steering wheel and a special performance digital instrument cluster to give the Night added credence. Soft leather features on key touch points, with hard plastic limited to the glovebox.
A pumping Harman Kardon 825 watt audio system with 19 speakers is a key upgrade, but Jeep's Uconnect system, which controls an array of functions can take some analysis. It doesn't possess smartphone-like intuition, but once your get used to the various operations the touch-screen is relatively easy to navigate.
Ride height ensures entry and exit is simple for adults, and space is impressive front and back. The rear pews are also cosseting, while the fronts have eight-way electric adjustment.
On the road
Waiting for the green light on the Eastern Creek drag strip the SRT Night walked the walk.
An included launch control function enables the driver to deliver seamless take-off without wheel spin even with a hulking 344kW hitting the four wheels. That's about three times as much power as your standard Mazda3.
Stomp on the right pedal and it's ridiculously quick. Unleashing the beast within sees the big SUV let out a dramatic holler from the quad pipes and sucks up the bitumen like taking spaghetti through pursed lips. Big Brembo brakes has the SUV under control in rapid time.
Given the dynamic requirements the SRT Night offers a firm ride, and attacking bends when using the bent eight to its potential means there can be some rock and roll in the corners - hey, you can't deny physics.
Choosing between drive models is done via a console dial, with an option for full vehicle characteristics customisation. You have Automatic and Economy, Sport for upping the ante, Track for when things really get exciting, Snow for maximum traction and Tow for when you have something hitched.
Everything behaves well, and even the eight-speed auto manages to find the right cog more often than not, with only the odd driveline shunt. Taking control manually is good fun, and we even enjoyed a quick sprint on mud and dirt tracks just to prove its dexterity. It has electronic power steering over the normal hydraulic, and it feels equally responsive.
Under full power the Hemi engine delivers a soulful note, but around town it can be a little subdued without the same appeal…almost too well behaved. Given the market, we think it could handle some more mongrel.
What do you get?
Outstanding kit sits within the SRT derivative, including a heated flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shift, dual zone climate, heated seats, Uconnect with 21cm screen and sat nav. The Night adds a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon sounds, Laguna leather trim and the "5Ten" 20-inch alloys.
Safety is well looked after with parking sensors, reversing camera, radar cruise, trailer sway mitigation and forward collision warning.
There have been past problems with the Jeep aftersales network, but massive improvements have been made in the past six months. Confidence is building again with improved access to parts which are also cheaper.
Jeep has a pseudo capped price servicing plan where you can plug details into their website to gain quotes before maintenance.
Given it's a hulking V8, it should come as no surprise that the SRT Black is heavy at the bowser: expect about 14L/100km.
Swallowing a few suitcases is simple with a sizable boot, while the rear seats fold 60-40 for a larger load space. There are dual cup holders in the front, as well as a handy nook for phones close to the USB slot, SD card and auxiliary jack. Those in the rear also have a pair of USBs.
The Night scores black treatment for the badges, seven-slot grille, lower front fascia, window surrounds and rims, toughening the SRT model even further.
Many will as the simple question: why? Well, why not?
It's an impressive engineering feat to deliver such a hulking package with luxurious touches, and if you want something similar you'd have to head the Euro route and bring another $50k.
If pure power floats your boat the SRT Night will put the wind in your sails, and then some.
Model: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night.
Details: Five-seat large performance four-wheel drive SUV.
Engine: 6.4-litre V8 generating maximum power of 344kW @ 6250rpm and peak torque of 624Nm @ 4100rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Consumption: 14.0 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100km in 4.8 seconds; Top speed 255kmh.
Towing: 2949kg (braked); Tow ball 295kg.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $97,000.
What matters most
What we liked: Plush leather finishes, raw non-turbo grunt is a dying art, good specification list.
What we'd like to see: Some extra thunder from the exhaust, electronic park brake instead of the foot brake, resting pedal for your left foot.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year/100,000km warranty. Service intervals are six months or 12,000km. A Mopar Menu Price Servicing Tool lets you go online and see future servicing costs.
Driving experience 17/20
Features and equipment 18/20
Functionality and comfort 17/20
Value for money 15/20
Style and design 16/20
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