Car reviews - Jeep - Grand Cherokee - SRT Night
Mighty V8 motor, in-your-face attitude, huge practicality
Room for improvement
Drinks like a dozen fish, question marks over reliability
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30 Jun 2016
By TIM ROBSON
THE Grand Cherokee SRT Night is a direct relative of the reasonably successful SRT, but there’s a little bit more to it than just additional spec and a set of black alloys.
Under the sheet metal are a couple of key changes that will translate into the MY17 Grand Cherokee facelift that is set to be launched later in the year.
The power steering set-up from the Chrysler 300 update from late-2015 has been adopted to the Night, while some changes to suspension parts – namely the front lower knuckles and the front and rear sway bars – have also been wrought. The front upper and lower arms are alloy, as well, while the lower control arms on the independent rear set-up are also alloy.
As well, buyers get a double-panel sunroof, a 19-speaker stereo, additional pieces of acoustic glass and bespoke black 20-inch rims, along with a smattering of blackness on the exterior.
Inside, the Uconnect system gets a makeover to include some new pages, while the dashboard has been reconfigured to display the tacho front and centre.
The SRT Night priced at $97,000 plus on roads, an uptick of $7000 on the regular SRT. Just 128 examples will come to Australia. Jeep Australia says they are sitting on some orders, but it won’t specify just how many.
The company did tell GoAuto that it wanted at least 150, and the hand is up for more should they become available from the United States.
The interior hasn’t changed much from the current Grand Cherokee SRT, even though it does represent what the MY17 car will look like.
The SRT Night edition is very well equipped in terms of its interior feel, with an Alcantara roof and black leather throughout, including the dash. It’s all black on black with carbon-fibre-look accents in the doors and silver trim setting it off as well.
The SRT buyer is generally not your conservative, inward-looking type a bit of theatre never goes astray. And they get a LOT of theatre with the SRT and the SRT Night in particular.
As mentioned, the SRT Night also features different pages on its Uconnect system in particular, what Jeep calls its Performance Pages.
It offers digital engine gauges that display oil temperature, coolant temperature, oil pressure, intake air temp, transmission temperature, and battery voltage – it’s nothing new, but it’s definitely new for the SRT.
There’s a G-force meter as well as a gauge that shows horsepower and torque in real time, along with a comprehensive timing system for the track or strip.
There’s also a launch control mode that allows the driver to set the rpm level for the best take-off, along with a new valet mode that locks the engine to 4000rpm, disables manual mode and also locks on the traction and stability control settings.
Out on the road, the Night is, truth be told, a little bit remote in terms of its feel and its ride, thanks mainly to the very stiff suspension tune and those huge 20-inch rims with their narrow-section tyres.
The seats are quite firm, too, which adds to that impression. In Auto mode in highway traffic on broken tarmac, it’s more than tolerable, though.
A fair bit of noise from those big tyres makes it inside the cabin, while the exhaust note is fruity and powerful and sounds awesome.
It could actually be louder inside the Night without killing the mood, but it’s plenty vocal enough on the inside to understand what kind of car you’re in – and from the outside it sounds absolutely incredible.
There are a few smart additions to the SRT that make it a great family rig.
There’s an SD card slot, USB slot, line-in, a pair of 12-volt sockets, and the rear seats get two USB ports, seat heaters, and airvents at knee level as well as LED lights throughout.
Most of the SRT’s controls run through the Uconnect system, which can be run off the dash. It’s a little complex and it’s not completely intuitive, especially on the roll, and needs some time spent with it to get the best from it.
A feature for the SRT Night that will make it onto the next Grand Cherokee SRT is the new dash arrangement the TFT dash has been reprogrammed to have the digital tacho as the central feature.
All of the information that you need comes into the middle of the tacho, and a digital speed reading is permanently displayed.
The traditional speedo moves off to the left, and it’s a little bit trickier to keep your eye on it. You definitely rely on the digital speedo to keep an eye on what you’re doing.
Big six-piston Brembo brake callipers reside up front mated to large 350mm steel rotors on alloy hats, with four-pot callipers in the rear. It’s a big car, and thankfully it’s a very comprehensive, high-end brake setup.
The engine and transmission are unchanged from the SRT, which means 344kW and 624Nm of torque from a 6.4-litre Hemi engine backed by an eight speed ZF-sourced transmission.
The eight-speeder indulged in a bit of a little bit of hunting and shunting in heavy traffic, but only a little. We have experienced much worse in this car, so Jeep has obviously worked hard to minimise it.
As a cruiser it’s actually quite refined, apart from tyre noise. There’s loads of torque and plenty of pace as well, despite being a 2.9-tonne box on wheels, and it really gets up and boogies when it needs to.
Obviously the SRT Night is not an economical car in any sense of the word. From a claimed based of 14 litres per 100 kilometres, we were consistently seeing figures in the mid-20s when punting it hard. After a 50km commute back into the city, we recorded a best of 14.8L/100km.
Like it or loathe it, the SRT Night will find buyers, no question. It’s a vehicle that attracts a particular kind of customer, and the cashed-up rev-head with a big family who likes to tow will be drawn to its admittedly head-turning looks and it’s don’t-care attitude.
It looks like few other cars on the road, and it has the performance to back it up. Sure, its economy is woeful, those tyres will cost an absolute fortune to replace, and there’s still a question around the reliability of the Grand Cherokee, as evidenced by the high number of recalls that it has been subject to, both locally and overseas, over the last five years.
Sometimes, though, life is too short to take the safest option.
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