Acceleration, cornering force on asphalt and stopping distance generally have nothing to do - at all - with the Jeep brand. In fact, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is about as un-Jeep-y as it gets.
But here it is, a combination that's unique among North American-based sport utility vehicles and a rare achievement for any such model from anywhere at just about any price.
Knobby tires, big ground clearance and exposed door hinges? Nope, but the SRT8 is a Jeep that you just have to love.
The initials refer to Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology division and the Grand Cherokee is one of four such designated models with the others being the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans plus the Dodge Challenger SRT8 392. Later this year, the Viper coupe returns as the first SRTnameplated model (the Dodge handle has been dropped).
You're forgiven if you assumed the ride was over for the Grand Cherokee SRT8 when it passed into history following the 2010 model year.
With its big-power V8 and taut suspension, the Jeep delivered Cheetah-like launches along with snappy passing prowess, regardless of weather or road conditions.
However, at a cost of thousands more than a more-offroad-capable base Laredo V6 or Limited V8, that could have easily sealed the SRT8's fate.
Well, apparently there remains enough potential buyers with outrageous transportation leanings to prod Jeep into bringing the SRT8 back on line.
Only this time there's more passenger space, luxury features and power, all wrapped up in a sinfully slick wrapper.
Creating an SRT8 begins with the latest edition of the Grand Cherokee that arrived for the 2011 model year. It's a solid platform with a 140 per cent more torsional stiffness than its predecessor. Good bones, indeed.
From that point the SRT8 is given its own distinctive front end with cat's-eye-looking running lights, bodycolour grille and prominent lower air intake flanked by ducts that channel fresh air to the vehicle's 15-inch Brembobrand front disc brakes.
Additionally, the hood's dual heat-extractor openings provide extra engine cooling.
In back, a spoiler adorns the liftgate while a blackedout lower panel houses a pair of four-inch-diameter exhaust tips and the optional trailer hitch (2,270-kilogram towing capacity).
Hauling anything with the SRT8 should be a breeze, owing to its 6.4-litre "Hemi" V8 generating 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque.
That's up 50 horses and 45 pound-feet from the previous 6.1-litre SRT8. Jeep says that the 6.4 can propel the 2,340kilogram Grand Cherokee to 60 mph (96 km-h) from rest in 4.8 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in the mid-13second range.
The Hemi is hooked up to a five-speed automatic transmission that can be manually operated with the console shifter or the steering-wheelmounted paddles.
To ease the SRT8's 91octane habit, the 6.4 comes with "Fuel Saver Technology" that powers down half of the eight cylinders when operating under light-or no-load conditions. It doesn't help too much in city driving where consumption is rated at 17.1 l/100 km, but that number drops to 11.4 on the highway.
But for SRT8 lovers, living with its fuelish thirst will likely be worth it, and not just in terms of acceleration. The standard Selec-Track system uses active (variable) shock damping that automatically adjusts ride and handling quality depending on the road surface and how the driver intends to use the vehicle.
Aside from an Auto mode, there's Sport (firm), Track (really firm), Snow (maximum traction control) while Tow (reduces suspension pitch and bounce for safer trailering).
In addition, the SRT8's on-demand Quadra-Trac fourwheel-drive setup goes to work whenever wheel slippage is detected and can transfer 100 per cent of the available torque to just a single rear wheel if need be.
All SRT8s arrive contented to a reasonably complete degree, with climate control, heated and cooled leather seats for both rows, heated steering wheel and 20-inch wheels with foot-wide Pirelli all-season performance tires.
There's also a nifty display that shows zero-to-100 km-h times, 100-km-h-to-zero stopping distance, 1/4-and 1/8thmile acceleration times as well as cornering g-forces.
At $59,000, including destination charges and a $2,000 federal "green levy," the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is actually an impressive deal.
It's also not the sort of vehicle that requires pictureperfect weather and road conditions to flex its muscle and demonstrate its butt-whipping capabilities. What you should know: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
Type: Four-door, four wheel-drive sport utility vehicle
Engine (hp): 6.4-litre OHV V8 (470)
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Market position: If the Jeep claims to be the off-road king, then the SRT8 would be the asphalt equivalent. Its obvious strengths include four-season driveability and impressive hauling/towing capacity that other SRT models lack.
Points: Power, power, power; Five-speed automatic? How about seven or eight to cut fuel bills; Active suspension makes for a more capable and safer package; Plenty of standard gear, but adding fullon luxury and safety content is expensive; Nice price compared to competition; Better enjoy vehicles like this before they're legislated out of existence.
Safety: Front airbags; sideimpact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
L/100 km (city/hwy) 17.1/11.4 ; Base price (incl. destination) $59,000
By comparison: Mercedes-Benz ML AMG Base price: $100,000
Twin-turbo 518-hp V8 with seven-speed auto transmission makes for fast fun.
BMW X5 M
Base price: $100,500 Sporty wagon is short on space, but is big on speed with 555 hp.
Porsche Cayenne S Base price: $75,500 Mid-range model uses 400-hp V8. Add $47,600 for 500-hp turbo.