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Chrysler Jeep pleas for SRT

Hungry for HEMI: Chrysler Jeep have the SRT-based 300C and Grand Cherokee on the shopping list.

Chrysler Jeep are 'pushing hard' for piping-hot 300C and Grand Cherokee

1 Jul 2005

THE arrival of Chrysler’s Crossfire SRT-6 is tipped to spearhead a range of high-performance SRT machines to be launched in Australia.

Chrysler Jeep Australia managing director, Gerry Jenkins, refused to confirm to GoAuto which cars would join the line-up, however he made no secret his desire to put the 300C SRT and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT on his shopping list.

"We hope to bring more SRTs into Australia," he said. "At this stage we haven’t confirmed any other SRT vehicles... but we’ll be pushing hard to get the SRT-8 versions of both the Chrysler 300C and new Jeep Grand Cherokee." Mr Jenkins said the SRT-branded 300C and Grand Cherokee could arrive within 18 months and provide a "sharper edge" to the brand.

Unveiled at the New York motor show in March, the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 is the first Jeep to bear the SRT badge is the quickest and most powerful Jeep ever.

Both the Jeep SRT-8 and 300C SRT-8 share Chrysler’s stump-pulling 6.1-litre Hemi V8, which on the 300C pumps out an impressive 317kW and on the Jeep develops 309kW.

The ‘SUV on steroids’ weighs around 2.2 tonnes and boasts Porsche Cayenne-rivalling performance with a top speed of more than 240km/h and a zero to 100km/h time of less than five seconds. Similar across the quarter mile, the 300C SRT has a top speed of 265km/h.

SRT engineers have upgraded the suspension and brakes on both cars. In the case of the Jeep, it uses four-piston Brembo brakes with 360mm x 32mm vented rotors up front and 350mm x 28mm vented rotors at the back, rides 250mm lower than the standard Grand Cherokee and its transfer case output shaft was upgraded to handle the extra torque.

Under normal conditions, between five per cent and 10 per cent of torque is directed to the front wheels, but more torque can be directed to the front when additional traction is required. Remaining torque is sent via a heavy-duty driveshaft borrowed from the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel to a Dana 44 rear differential.

Externally, the Jeep SRT gains a body kit with deep front spoiler, twin centre exhaust system and forged 20-inch five-spoke alloys shod with high-performance Goodyear run-flat tyres.

Inside are the usual SRT sports cues, from the deeply contoured suede and leather seats to the carbon-fibre detailing and 300km/h speedo.

The SRT duo would sit above of all-new mainstream models due in Australia soon, with the new Grand Cherokee arriving next month and the 300C scheduled for launch at the Australian International Motor Show in October.

The latter is expected to sell from around $55,000 and will compete against the Holden Statesman and Ford Fairlane.

11 center imageMr Jenkins confirmed that only one model will be offered – a "high-line" luxury offering in either 3.5-litre V6 or a 5.7 multi-displacement system Hemi V8, mated to a four- and five-speed automatic transmission respectively.

"The 300C is constrained by supply but I’m confident we can sell 1000 in its first 12 months," Mr Jenkins said.

Mr Jenkins said response to "teaser" campaigns on the car had resulted in 1100 expressions of interest and that he was also considering bringing in the 300C Touring wagon.

"We are seriously considering that type of vehicle even though volumes would be small," he said.

Two other vehicles sparking Mr Jenkins’ interest are the new Dodge Caliber and the Charger. "We are looking at everything," he said.

Soft-core Jeep plan

CHRYSLER Jeep Australia managing director Gerry Jenkins said he supported moves to expand the Jeep brand into new directions, including passenger car derivatives, but would not be drawn on specific details.

"Look, I can't comment about future product but I certainly support any moves to build the brand," he said.

Industry journal Automotive News earlier this month reported that Jeep was planning to build two car-based crossover 4WDs, codenamed the MK49 and MK74, to capitalise on the burgeoning mid-size 4WD market segment.

Although Jeep has not confirmed the plans, industry sources say Jeep's first car-based models will both share a platform with the Dodge Caliber hatchback, which replaces the Dodge Neon.

The MK49 will have AWD and sporty styling with a wagon silhouette. The MK74 will have a taller roofline so it looks more like a conventional 4WD, with a wheelbase expected to be slightly longer.

Both vehicles are the first Jeeps not engineered for severe off-road use.

In the US, Jeep is known to already be using the term "trail-ready" in its marketing, prompting some to predict this is an attempt to distinguish between its true off-roaders and the emerging soft-roaders.

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