Chrysler turns Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8s into Ferraris — sort of

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Formula One superstars Fernando Alonso, left, and Felipe Massa take possession of unique twin Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 SUVs.

AUBURN HILLS, MI —  Is Jeep’s explosive Grand Cherokee SRT8 the Ferrari of sport-utility vehicles?

That’s a question for prospective buyers to decide, but it apparently is the image Chrysler Corp. hopes to convey as the American maker of sport-utility vehicles prepares to market the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 in Europe.

To make the connection, Jeep has prepared two identical Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 models and has presented them to world-famous Ferrari Formula One race drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

If you’re having a little trouble putting Jeep and Ferrari in the same family, just keep in mind that Italian automaker Fiat owns Ferrari and has a controlling interest in Chrysler.

Ferrari-style Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Ferrari-style Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

To make Jeep buyers think Ferrari, designers took Jeep’s most powerful and best-handling vehicle and covered it with Ferrari’s signature Rosso Corsa paint.

Then, they blacked-out the grille, added a black racing stripe with white accents from front to rear and installed a matte black dual-pane sunroof. In addition, the exclusive Grand Cherokee SRT8s have carbon-fiber mirror caps, a glossy black rear light bar with red accents and an Italian flag painted on the underside of the rear spoiler to pay tribute to Ferrari’s Formula One race car.

Inside, the Jeep features Rosso Corsa leather inserts on the seats, door-trim panels, center armrest and the instrument panel.

Add a few more Italian touches and, voila, you might be thinking off-road Ferrari.

Actually, a closer connection to Ferrari lies beneath the exclusive design touches.

There you will find the 6.4-liter, 470 horsepower Hemi V-8 engine that is capable of hurling the SUV from a stop to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, to 100 mph in a little more than 16 seconds and on to a top speed of 160 mph.

Interior of Ferrari-style Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Interior of Ferrari-style Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Steering-wheel-mounted paddles can give the driver control of the five-speed automatic transmission. Need to stop? Hit the binders at 60 mph and you will be sitting still in a mere 116 feet.

To enhanced the handling, ride height of the twin Ferrari-style Grand Cherokee SRT8s has been lowered by 1.5 inches. The unique 20-inch wheels are made of forged aluminum.

Sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 in Europe are scheduled to begin in May. Prices were not announced, but an SRT8 sold in the United States generally runs $60,000 or more.

And the two specially prepared SUVs? Priceless.