VM was the first outfit to put diesel engines in Jeeps sold over here, and if you’d driven one, you’d not need to be told why Jeep used the DaimlerChrysler amalgamation to snap up Mercedes powertrains for the last Grand Cherokee. But now that association is part of automotive history, VM is back in the frame and, to be honest, it was not difficult to keep a cap on expectations.
So it’s pleasing to report that the Grand Cherokee's diesel motor is fully competitive with those of its rivals. Even if it is a little coarser in tone than, say, the Volkswagen Group’s diesel V6, you can dress that up as character in a car such as this, as long as it’s quiet enough at a constant cruise, which it undoubtedly is.
Two versions are offered: a 247bhp version and the 461bhp 6.4-litre V8 Hemi. There’s no shortage of power or torque, with 247bhp and 406lb ft, and despite being longer, wider and taller than the old Grand Cherokee, it’s also a fraction lighter, at 2272kg. This is not exactly snake hipped, but it’s still over 300kg less than the Land Rover Discovery 4 has to carry.
Acceleration comes in a strong and solid shove, but you have to wonder how much better even than that it would be were it equipped with a six, seven or even eight-speed transmission such as those found in its rivals.
As it is, the five-speed gearbox only just about covers its duties, and even then only because it’s helped by an engine with a wide powerband and some of the shortest overall gearing in the class. The shift quality itself is reasonable and it’s quite willing to respond to manual inputs, but overall you’d be forgiven for thinking that this gearbox is in the car not through choice but necessity.
On the road, it doesn't take long for the qualities of the new gearbox to become evident. It is a good match to the new Grand Cherokee's slightly perkier 3.0-litre V6 engine.
The set-up is more suited to cruising than sporty driving; although the engine has a substantial amount of grunt from low revs, it still has to haul almost two-and-a-half tonnes up to speed, and the 0-62mph sprint takes 8.2sec and feels comfortable rather than exhilarating.
If all this seems a little tame, you could consider the 6.4-litre V8, 461bhp SRT8 model. In the UK, it is simply insanity.