The arrival of the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the UK is almost certainly bad news for Range Rover. Perversely, it could also be a drawback for Jeep.
In the first instance, at £28,995 it undercuts the entry-level Range Rover by around £5000; in the second, it is a similar amount more costly than the most lavishly equipped standard Cherokee, which is a very fine car indeed.
It is bigger and more opulent than its sibling, of course. It shares the lesser Cherokee’s 4.0-litre pushrod straight six, coupled to a compulsory four-speed ‘automatic (the monstrous 5.2-litre model is also available, but only in Ihd). With 174 bhp at 4600 rpm and almost enough torque to shift the earth from its axis (222 lb It at just 2400 rpm), it combines effortless cruising with mosquito-like urban nippiness that belies its dimensions. Plus, of course, it can climb mountains blindfolded…
For all its ability to hack it on rugged terrain, it handles remarkably like a car and is impeccably smooth in all conditions, It also permitted us to get from south London to Silverstone in less than two hours on the morning of the British Grand Prix (setting off at 6.15, arriving at 8.10), This was partly due to the mountain bike, slotted neatly in the back, partly due to the Jeep’s versatility. The route will remain a closely-guarded secret, for future use. . .
Cabin ergonomics aren’t perfect some of the switchgear is a little fussy but it is blissfully comfortable, and supremely well equipped. The only available options are an electric sunroof (unnecessary, given the quality of the air conditioning system) and a CD autochanger.
It may lack the Range Rover’s breeding and a little of its performance, but that’s about it. In a word, awesome. S A