The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is basically a modern factory hot rod. Chrysler’s SRT performance division wanted to make a fast Jeep, and it achieved that goal in the most straightforward way: by stuffing a more powerful engine behind the Grand Cherokee’s seven-slot grille. It’s how generations of hot rodders have turned ordinary cars into performance machines.
So how does the Grand Cherokee SRT stack up against an original hot rod? To find out how far performance cars have come in the last 60 years, Jeep’s U.K. division took a base Grand Cherokee SRT (not the new, 707-horsepower Trackhawk version, mind you) and lined it up against a classic hot rod for a Hemi-powered quarter-mile shootout at England’s Santa Pod Raceway.
The hot rod consists of a 1930 Ford Model A body mounted to a 1932 Model A chassis, with the 330-cubic-inch “Firedome” V8 from a 1956 DeSoto, one of Chrysler’s earliest production Hemi V8 engines. The Firedome engine is rated at 304 hp, compared to 468 hp for the Jeep’s modern 6.4-liter Hemi. Note that this figure, quoted by Jeep U.K., is less than the 475 hp quoted for U.S.-spec models.
The Jeep’s power advantage allowed it to out-muscle the hot rod in the quarter mile. Despite weighing substantially more, the Jeep managed a 13.3-second run at 103 mph, compared to 14.2 seconds at 95 mph for the hot rod. Now that’s progress.
The upcoming Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will be able to do even better. It sports the 6.2-liter supercharged “Hellcat” Hemi V8 previously seen in the Dodge Challenger and Charger.With 707 hp on tap, Jeep says it will run the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds, as well as do 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and reach a top speed of 180 mph. All of that in a vehicle that still has room for all of your Ikea shopping. We live in interesting times.
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