Thanks to a recent update, the Grand Cherokee now features restyled front and rear lights, a bolder grille, a larger touch infotainment screen and new gear lever. Underneath, the transmission features two more ratios, from six to eight.

As the SRT-8 is the high-performance flagship of the range, its oversized, macho looks create an imposing road presence. And good old American V8 muscle is at the heart of the SRT8 – it’s all about cubic inches; all 390 of them (6,4-litres).

The engine idles lumpily when cold, but it merely adds to the Jeep's racy character and the powerplant serves up bags of torque, replete with a soundtrack that could only emanate from a V8. To test the SRT8's acceleration ability from standstill, hold your left foot on the brake pedal – push the launch button, plant your right foot on the gas and then lift your left hoof. The 100 km/h mark comes up in a shade over five seconds, which is astonishing for a large SUV. In fact, this eight-speed version was slightly quicker than the five-speed we tested in 2012, especially above 100 km/h. The claimed top speed is 257 km/h!

The new T-bar selector is nifty, but set close to the driver and has an extremely short gate movement. Does the Jeep need eight ratios? Perhaps not, because the otherwise smooth shifting transmission will skip a number of gears if you need instant speed.

As far as finishes and build quality is concerned, there are issues. The front seats are heated and cooled but the leather bolsters feel flimsy. The protective wrapping of the wiring loom under the seats was not properly finished off and one of the rear plastic clip-on wheel-arch spats came loose.

The luster of the 20-inch polished aluminium wheels is reminiscent of chrome plating – it suits the Jeep's image perfectly. They do get dirty quickly of course – due to brake dust deposits.

The smartly-updated instrumentation cluster displays tyre pressures, engine and transmission oil temperatures, a G meter with recorded maximums and a sprint acceleration time readout (with launch control LEDs).

In contrast with its brethren, the SRT8 has a steel, as opposed to pneumatic, suspension. Its setup is firm, for enchanced handling, but the ride is not crashy. Besides, the Jeep is in its element when its driver utilises the power without needing to over-use the Brembos before the corners.

The Jeep's powerful audio system includes auxiliary, USB and SD ports with a CD player (stashed away under the centre armrest) at the front, while rear passengers benefit from dual USB ports, the full impact of the subwoofer ... and a self-charging torch. The rear bench, which is trimmed in leather and suede, can be heated and the large panoramic sunroof gives the dark cabin an airy ambience.

And what about fuel consumption? Well, there has to be a downside – expect around 17 L/100 km if you drive carefully and much more if you don’t.

TEST SUMMARY

This is a great status symbol vehicle; it blends SUV macho with power and performance. Practical? Maybe not. Good resale value? Maybe not. But a whole lot of fun nonetheless!