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Driven: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night lights up

Night terror: The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night retains the slightly bonkers 344kW power output of the stock SRT, but adds darkness inside and out.

Limited edition V8-powered SRT Night SUV points to MY17 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Jeep logo1 Jul 2016

By TIM ROBSON

JEEP has secured 128 examples of the strictly limited Grand Cherokee SRT Night performance SUV for the Australian market, despite putting an order in for at least 150.

The SRT Night was uncovered at the Los Angeles motor show late last year and blasts into Jeep showrooms in July priced from $97,000 plus on-road costs, representing a $7000 premium over the standard SRT it is based on.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia product specialist Callum Maynes told journalists that dealers were currently holding “a number” of orders for the Night.

“We had our hand up for more,” confirmed Mr Maynes. “Global demand is saying this variant is pretty popular. If we can get more, we'll get more, but at this point it's limited to 128.”

The big SUV is no more powerful than its donor, the 344kw/624Nm SRT, but it sports mechanical updates that will filter down to the rest of the Grand Cherokee range when it is facelifted at the end of 2016.

The electric power steering system that made its debut in the Chrysler 300 in 2015 has been added to the SRT Night, and there have been changes to the front and rear suspension set-ups.

Alloy knuckles up front replace steel items, while hollow sway bars front and rear also reduce the sprung weight of the big Jeep.

Additional panels of acoustic glass have also been added, leaving only the rear quarters unchanged.

All of these changes will be brought across to the MY17 facelift of the Grand Cherokee when it launches in late-2016, along with revisions to the dash display on the stock SRT.

Mr Maynes said that the SRT Night provides customers the opportunity to buy a vehicle that is customised right from the showroom floor, rather than having to do it themselves.

“I guess what we've done here is make a level of customisation that we're already seeing,” said Mr Maynes. “We've got a similar level of customisation straight from the factory, so we're not talking about some cheap Supercheap Auto stuff here, we're talking about proper, factory-quality customisation.”

Mr Maynes also pointed to the SRT and the SRT Night’s pricing that edges out logical rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG GLE63, the BMW X5 M and the Ranger Rover Sport.

“It is the most powerful SUV under $100 grand. You cannot get anything else with more power and with this level of equipment,” he said. “The next best competitor is at least another $30,000 off the SRT Night, or closer to $40,000 of the regular SRT, so we are the best-value performance SUV under $100,000.”

The Grand Cherokee SRT Night sticks with the 6.4-litre Hemi V8 petrol engine that puts out 344kW and 624Nm that propels the 2.3-tonne 4x4 from rest to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 258km/h.

The mighty motor is backed by a Chrysler-designed eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and the newly redesigned gated shifter, which replaces the joystick shifter that is currently under recall.

Six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo brakes are shown off through a bespoke set of forged satin black 20-inch rims, while a gloss black grille with satin black surround takes pride of place up front.

Beneath, the lower front fascia is finished in black as well, along with gloss black side window surrounds. Satin black Jeep badging and additional SRT logos round off the Night.

The Night adds a panoramic twin-pane sunroof, the optional Harman Kardon 19-speaker stereo system and black Laguna leather with contrasting silver stitching throughoutThe TFT dash has been reconfigured to display the tachometer in the centre of the screen, while additional pages have been added to the Uconnect infotainment system.

The pages can display a wide range of engine and transmission temperatures, G-force levels, launch control settings and lap- and drag-strip timing.

This set of pages, along with the dash reconfiguration, will be added to the standard SRT at the end of 2016.

FCA Australia says that the SRT makes up 10 per cent of its total Grand Cherokee sales, which currently sit at 3131 for 2016.

The heat is going out of the formerly high-flying Grand Cherokee’s performance, with sales slipping 41 per cent year-on-year. It’s also fallen from being the second strongest seller in the large-SUV category behind the Toyota Prado this time twelve months ago to fifth spot this year, just a handful of units ahead of the outgoing Ford Territory.

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