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Jeep plans Grand Cherokee master blaster

Grand plan: So, you think Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT8 is hot? Just wait for the next version with Chrysler’s 527kW supercharged Hemi V8.

Stonking 527kW supercharged Hellcat V8 set to light up Jeep’s Grand Cherokee

14 Jan 2016

JEEP is preparing to shoehorn Chrysler’s most powerful Hellcat V8 engine into its Grand Cherokee large SUV to create a supercharged beast capable of blowing its European SUV rivals off the road.

The American off-road vehicle manufacturer also appears to have given the green light to its long-awaited ute based on its next-generation Wrangler.

Both vehicles were mentioned by Jeep CEO Mike Manley in discussions with journalists at this week’s Detroit motor show.

Although Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia has no official word on either product, it says it would welcome both with open arms.

Confirmation that Jeep is preparing a new high-performance Grand Cherokee above the current 344kW 6.4-litre SRT8 performance flagship came in a brief video interview with Mr Manley posted by an American blogger on YouTube.

Asked if Jeep could fit the supercharged 6.2-litre Hellfire V8 from the Dodge Charger and Chrysler Challenger into the Grand Cherokee, Mr Manley fired back that not only could it be done, but he had approved it for production.

Belting out 527kW of power and 881Nm of torque, the Hellfire Hemi blown V8 would give the Grand Cherokee the raw engine performance to surpass of all its rivals’ current mass-produced high-performance SUVs, including Mercedes-AMG’s 430kW/760Nm GLE63 S AMG, the 423kW/750Nm BMW X5 M, 419kW/800Nm Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and 405kW/680Nm Range Rover Sport SVR.

Although no name or timeline was mentioned by Mr Manley in the video interview, some American publications are betting on the badge Trackhawk – a play on Jeep’s Trailhawk trail-rated nameplate.

The current fourth-generation Grand Cherokee shares much of its architecture with the 2012 W166 Mercedes ML-Class and has been on the Australian market for five years.

A hi-po Hellfire engine version might be Jeep’s way of keeping the fire alight under the large wagon as it enters its twilight years.

FCA Australia corporate communications manager Andrew Chesterton told GoAuto today that Jeep Grand Cherokee sales in Australia already had a high uptake of high-performance sales, with about 27 per cent of all sales going to the flagship SRT8.

“Needless to say, if such a vehicle was to come about, with more power, many of our buyers would appreciate it and we would be very excited to take it,” he said.

Mr Chesterton also said FCA Australia would be warm to the idea of a Wrangler pick-up, saying the success of utes in Australia would make such a vehicle a great acquisition for the Australian Jeep line-up.

The Wrangler pick-up reportedly was confirmed by Mr Manley in a round-table interview with American journalists at the Detroit show.

The vehicle will be based on the next-generation Wrangler and planned for production from late 2017.

Jeep has long talked about reintroducing a ute to its line-up, having had some success with pick-ups such as the Scrambler and Gladiator in the past.

The company even came up with a new-look Gladiator concept at the 2005 Detroit motor show, but that never materialised as a production vehicle, perhaps skittled by Chrysler's financial woes in the global financial crisis.

In 2014, a five-year product plan announced by Jeep made no mention of such a ute, but a new five-year plan due out next month might tell more, not only about the proposed ute but also the planned replacement for Jeep’s compact SUV twins, the Compass and Patriot than Mr Manley also confirmed.

One obstacle that Jeep will have to overcome before it can build the Wrangler ute is a lack of production capacity at its plant in Jeep’s spiritual home, Toledo, Ohio.

American journalists are speculating that because the Wrangler production line there is already running at capacity, Cherokee production might be moved elsewhere to free up room.

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