ONE of the most famous names in the history of 4x4 motoring has just been re-established in the UK with the launch of the all new Jeep Grand Cherokee which will be competing against premium heavyweights in this market sector such as the Range Rover writes Bryan Longworth.
The launch of this premium SUV also marks the start of a new life for Jeep now under the ownership of Fiat as it seeks to re-estabish the brand in the UK following the unfortunate gap when the future ownership was being sorted out.
But there is no doubt that the famous brand has returned to the UK under Fiat with a bang for the all new Grand Cherokee is a formidable vehicle with impressive off-road ability that will give it big appeal as Jeep seek to increase their dealers.
In the UK there will be two versions of Grand Cherokee, Limited and Overland, with both powered by a new 237bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine and costing £36,795 and £43,995 on the road respectively.
New Grand Cherokee has arguably one of the best looking bodies in this sector and is both longer and wider than the model it has replaced being built on a new platform co-developed with Mercedes-Benz which will also be used in the next generation Mercedes vehicles.
It alsoi has a very classy interior with user friendly controls and instruments that provide a premium aura matching the exterior appearance.
There are also short front and rear overhangs for superior off-road capability as I discovered when taking the Grand Cherokee on a tough off-road course at Donington Park racing circuit.
The new Italian built diesel engine provides an impressive smooth power output through automatic transmission that provides a top speed of 126mph, a zero to 62mph time of 8.2 seconds and an average fuel consumption of around 34mpg.
New Grand Cherokee is a delight to drive on road with a nice precise feel about the steering and impressive handling with a very comfortable ride thanks to the air suspension.
For serious off-roading the suspension can be raised automatically to provide nearly a foot of ground clearance that allows the vehicle to be driven safely over the most uneven terrain as I discovered on the test drive - the front spoiler can be removed for negotiating really dodgy surfaces.
At the rear is a large load area with a spare wheel underneath and the Overland model has a powered tailgate along with satellite navigation, heated steering wheel, leather seats and panoramic sunroof.
The new Grand Cherokee has enormous appeal in every way including appearance, refinement, performance, quality interior and handling that should attract many new buyers to the marque now that its future has been assured thanks to Fiat.
My Verdict: New Grand Cherokee is a top premium 4x4 SUV.
Model: New Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel.
Output: 237bhp @ 3600rpm.
Transmission: Five speed automatic.
Top speed: 126mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 8.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 34mpg.
CO2 emissions: 218g/km.
Price: From £36,795.