BMW X5 M 2017 review: Torquing Heads
Nikki Cousins and Peter Anderson road test and review the BMW X5 M, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Americans are at their very best, or at least their most prolific, at that point where simplicity meets insanity. That's why they've long specialised in making cars with outrageously large engines that can go shockingly fast in a straight line, but are rather poorly engineered for other tasks, like going around corners.
On paper, the latest effort from Jeep - a company that very much embodies American simplicity - is a case in point, with the Grand Cherokee SRT powered by a 6.4-litre V8 that seems about as necessary and in sync with the current global trend towards downsizing and lower emissions as a Big Mac is with a vegan diet.
There is, of course, something intriguing about a car that packs this much power into a giant, and gigantically capable, off-roader, and yet costs just $91,000. Realistically, it has no competitors that can touch it for value, or insanity. But then again, no company but another American one would really want to try.
|Jeep Grand Cherokee 2017: SRT (4x4)|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Trying to make a Jeep look attractive and sporty is no mean feat, putting lipstick and a Captain America helmet on a pig does not a pretty pig make. But somehow the hugely aggressive bodykit, refashioned black grille, exclusive bonnet with cool heat extractors and body-colouring the hell out of everything managed to make our big blue meanie look pretty darn good, considering.
It still feels like a Jeep inside, although the flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped steering wheel with nifty shift paddles is a nice touch, and the persistence in using a stupid foot parking brake instead of a modern electronic one that you can flick a switch for is as mystifying as it is annoying.
Overall, though, it is an eye-catching effort and you can see that the kind of customer who wants a car like this - and not just Americans - would love it to bits.
As you would expect from looking at it, it's as spacious as Montana inside, with vast amounts of legroom for rear passengers. Oddment storage is not excessive but there are cup holders designed for US 7-Eleven Big Gulps in your doors and another two between the seats.
The rear load area is reasonably capacious but one bugbear is that the button to shut it electronically is inside the boot itself, which just seems odd. It also seemed odd when we pressed it a couple of times and it didn't work. On one occasion we actually drove off with the tailgate open, on the assumption it had closed itself. Fortunately nothing was damaged, other than my good humour.
It's hard to argue with the value proposition of the second-fastest Jeep ever made , because at just $91,000 it's around half the price of anything remotely similar you could buy from the Germans. A BMW X5 M, while admittedly far classier inside, is $185,000, for example, and just 0.7 of a second faster to 100km/h, at 4.2 sec.
If you're wondering about the fastest Jeep ever made, that honour goes to the over-the-top 527kW/874Nm Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which its maker claims will sprint from 0-100km/h in 3.6sec. And what's more, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia is bringing it here before Christmas this year. But back to the SRT...
Your $91,000 gets you four-pot Brembo brakes, 20-inch 'Goliath' wheels, a 6.4-litre V8, which means you're literally getting more engine than anyone this side of a Mack truck will offer, paddle shifters for your eight-peed automatic, heated steering wheel and front seats, which are fabulous, premium Nappa leather buckets, carbon fibre-look accents, 'racing style' pedals, 8.4-inch 'Connect' multimedia system (with Siri functionality, which doesn't always work very well), wing mirror demisters, a rear limited-slip differential, a 'Performance Bonnet' with functional vents, 'Launch Control', and a 'Performance Instrument Cluster' with 300km/h Speedometer.
I really like that last one, because it speaks to the sort of person who will buy this car, someone who will say "Look, mate, goes up to 300!". Even though, realistically, that's not going to happen.
The vast 6.4-litre Hemi V8, borrowed from the awesome Dodge Challenger (where it seems a lot more at home, frankly) makes a hefty 344kW at 6250rpm and 624Nm at 4100rpm. Happily, some 80 per cent of that torque is on tap from just below 2000rpm, which means it's the kind of big, easy engine that can cruise at very low revs, or leap away like a cut cat when you want it to.
The 0-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds is not bad, but it feels even faster, because there's so much car moving around you.
You'd expect a powerplant that's slightly bigger than five Fiat 500 engines stuck together to be a thirsty bugger, but Jeep has done its best to make it as parsimonious as possible, using Chrysler's Fuel Saver tech, which is a form of cylinder deactivation that can shut down half the engine when cruising, turning it into a V4.
This has allowed the Jeep SRT to achieve a claimed combined (urban, extra-urban) fuel economy figure of 14.0 litres per 100km.
The fact that you have to run the big beast on Premium Unleaded is a bit of a sting in the tail.
In our first half hour together, however, the trip computer showed us averaging closer to 35.0L/100km. At the end of a 400km test loop that included some city driving but plenty of easy highway and a smattering of sporty stuff up and down some windy hills, the Jeep's screen was proclaiming an impressive 14.9L/100km, while our own measurements made it just 15.3L/100km.
All things considered, in a car that weighs 2.4 tonnes, carrying four humans, and with an engine of this size, and performance, it's a lot better than we thought it would be.
The fact that you have to run the big beast on Premium Unleaded is a bit of a sting in the tail, and you need 93 litres of it to fill the tank. Ouch.
As you would expect, the SRT is very, very entertaining when driven in a straight line. It has plenty of oomph and shedloads of "Oooof!", which is the noise passengers make when you surprise them by slamming the loud pedal and propelling two-tonnes of plastic and steel at a stunning rate.
Is 344kW too much? At times, yes, because there are occasions where the SRT struggles to get all that grunt to the ground, even with its huge tyres. In my first half hour with the car I found myself hitting the throttle too hard and finding the traction system had taken away all motive force and left me poised rather than propelled.
Overtaking, obviously, is a doddle, and tends to scare the hell out of the people you are going past because the 6.4-litre Hemi engine makes a proper muscle-car roar.
What's more surprising about the SRT, though, is that it can go around corners in an entertaining and sporty fashion as well. While most Jeep steering feels like it's been borrowed from a dodgem car (a Jeep spokesman once admitted to me that they know their steering is rubbish, but that they didn't see the point in changing it "because our customers like it that way"), this Grand Cherokee muscles up the wheel with plenty of feel and feedback and a level of accuracy that's atypical for the brand.
It's still silly, and seems entirely unnecessary, but if that's the kind of thing you're looking for, it should definitely be on your list.
Switch it into its Sport mode and it even hunkers down and corners quite flat, like a proper sporty-SUV. It's no Porsche Cayenne, but it's nowhere near as far off a BMW X5 M as the vast price differential would suggest. The big Brembo brakes do a commendable job of pulling up all that mass, even at speed, so you really can enjoy a winding road in a way that I've never experienced in a Jeep before.
In short, the SRT surprised in the way it actually manages to resemble a giant sports car. It's still silly, and seems entirely unnecessary, but if that's the kind of thing you're looking for, it should definitely be on your list.
Where it ceases to make any sense at all, though, is when the road turns rough. On the first bit of broken tarmac we encountered it soon became clear the big Jeep's ride was far too firm - too sporty essentially - to deal with the rough stuff. It was a similar story when we tried some very mild off-roading; we were thrown and bounced around in a brutal fashion.
Surely, if you want a Jeep, you'd want it to be comfortable off road as well as capable on road? But then you could argue that there a plenty of other, less silly and over-the-top Jeeps that do that job.
The one other bugbear of the SRT experience was the AEB system, which seemed to be fooled by fog on a climb through the clouds up a mountain pass, setting off its clanging 'Danger Will Robinson!' alarms and slamming on the brakes when I was in no danger of hitting the car in front.
A similar over-reaction on a city street in Sydney saw the AEB slam on the brakes, and scare the hell out of my family, for no apparent reason.
Fettling the sensitivity of the system is apparently an option, but it struck me as a rather basic version of the technology, which reflected the slightly cut-price feel of the car overall.
When you get this much grunt for that much money, you have to wonder where the corners have been cut to make it possible, although the feel of the interior is one obvious giveaway.
The fact that a piece of exterior trim in one of the wheel arches was hanging off when we pulled up at one stage was another, as was the mysterious morning when the gearbox refused to move out of Park into Drive until I turned it off, locked it, and restarted the whole thing.
Those old Jeep gremlins don't die easy.
5 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating and active safety tech includes Forward Collision Warning Plus, AEB, Lane Departure Warning Plus, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path Detection, Park Assist, Advanced Brake Assist, Rain Brake Support, ESC and Trailer Sway Control.
On the passive side, the SRT is equipped with seven airbags, two front, two side curtain, two side seat bags and one driver's knee airbag.
Considering Jeep's history with repeated recalls and ropey reliability (see above), you have to wonder just how much warranty you'd want before you'd feel comfortable buying one. Or you could just suggest that when you buy this much beefcake, at such a low price per kilo, you gets what you pays for.
The SRT does come with a five-year/100,000km warranty and five years' roadside assistance, which a cynic would suggest will be very handy, and if you continue to service through a Jeep dealership, you will receive lifetime roadside assist.
Servicing is required every 12-months/12,000km, and a five-year capped price scheduled servicing agreement, sees service charges ranging from $495 to $865, for an average of $603, and a total of $3015.
A lot of people have very strange tastes, just look at tattoos and those huge dinner plates some people put in their ears these days, and a lot of Australians have a strange love of things that are American. Those people will love the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, as will anyone who believes in the ethos that bigger is better.
If the car you desire is a giant SUV with far more power than seems necessary or sensible, then this the bargain-priced version of that particular flavour, and makes its Porsche, BMW and Benz competitors look overpriced. The fact is, of course, that no one who's seriously considering one of those three would be seen dead in a Jeep.
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|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|