WITH A HEADBANGING 6.4 LITRE V8 THRUSTING OUT 350KW OF POWER AND 673NM OF TORQUE, THE CHRYSLER 300 SRT APPEALS TO THE DORMANT HEDONIST IN US ALL.
And if you like your performance sedans to be served with a generous dollop of Americana on top, the 300 SRT delivers.
From its barrel-chested exhaust note to its bold and extroverted styling, to its chilled cupholders, the only way the SRT could be any more ‘Murican would be if the colour palette was restricted to just red, white and blue.
Vehicle Style: Large high performance sedan
Price: $69,000 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 350kW/637Nm 6.4 petrol 8cyl | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 13.0 l/100km | tested: 16.3 l/100km
Quintessentially American it may be, but, ironically, the 2016 Chrysler 300 SRT is not available in that market.While our cousins across the Pacific enjoy a multitude of V8-powered muscle sedans/coupes/trucks/motorhomes, we can at least take comfort in the fact they can no longer sample the pleasures of the 300 SRT.
It’s something of a consolation prize given the present unavailability in Australia of Fiat-Chrysler’s more sportier products - like the Hellcat versions of the Dodge Charger and Challenger, not to mention the Viper - but we’ll gladly accept it.
Updated last year with a number of mechanical, cosmetic and equipment upgrades, the 300 SRT, at $69,000, is nearly $14,000 cheaper than the equivalent HSV CLubsport ($83,490 for the 6-spd auto).
That value proposition flips however if you compare it to the SS V Redline, which is a substantial $12,000 less than the SRT.
- Standard equipment: Leather/alcantara upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated outboard rear seats, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, trip computer, performance monitor, keyless entry/ignition
- Infotainment: 8.4-inch colour touchscreen display with satellite navigation, 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio, AM/FM/CD/DAB+/USB/Bluetooth audio
- Cargo volume: 462 litres with rear seats up, 60/40 split rear seats.
It’s dark, moody and plush in here. The styling is a bit non-descript but there are splashes of carbon fibre to break the sombre tone, and alcantara and double-stitched leather to remind you that you’re in something more exciting than a hire-car-spec 300.
There’s also no shortage of toys. Standard on the 300 SRT are things like a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated seats, heated and cooled cupholders even.
The chunky rim of the steering wheel feels substantial in the palm of the hand, though the diameter seems a smidge too big for a performance car. The steering column is power-adjustable, and the range of adjustment should accommodate anyone from jockeys to powerlifters.
We only wish that the wheel-mounted paddle-shifters were bigger. They’re only broad enough for one or two fingers, and their position right next to some of the audio controls means you can change from pop hits to talkback when really you just wanted to drop down into third gear.
The leather/alcantara-clad front seats look like overstuffed La-Z-Boys, but the bolsters are deep enough to maintain a reasonable hold on your torso in hard corners.
The back seats aren’t so generously sized. The high beltline makes it feel claustrophobic enough back there, but you’ll need the front seats a fair way forward before there’s enough rear legroom for taller adults.
On the plus side, the seats are reasonably comfortable, there are face-level air-vents, the outer seats are heated and a fold-down centre armrests houses a pair of cupholders and a lidded storage box.
The centre seat isn’t good for much though, besides small children and particularly tolerant adults. Centre-tunnel intrusion decimates legroom for the poor soul trapped there, and the high seat-cushion brings their head closer to the headliner.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 350kW/637Nm 6.4 litre naturally-aspirated petrol V8
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters, rear-wheel drive
- Suspension: Double-wishbone front, electronically-adjustable dampers
- Brake type: 360mm front slotted discs with four-piston Brembo calipers, 350mm rear slotted discs with four-piston Brembo calipers
- Steering: electrically assisted power steering, variable weight.
The 300 SRT’s 6.4 litre naturally-aspirated V8 is a familiar device, and bears the distinction of being the third-largest engine in a production car that’s on sale in Australia - only the Lambo Aventador’s 6.5 litre V12 and the Rolls Royce Phantom’s mammoth 6.8 litre V12 eclipse it.
And if the mantra “there’s no replacement for displacement” resonates with you, the Chrysler’s iron-block Hemi will probably rock your cradle in a big way.
How could it not? With 350kW at 6150rpm and 637Nm at 4250 and very oversquare cylinder dimensions (103.9mm bore and 94.5mm stroke, for those interested), this is no lazy V8 - it likes to rev.
And though it’s a porky one at 1965kg, the 300 SRT can run like a true athlete. According to its onboard datalogging feature, a launch control assisted 0-100km/h run clocked in at just 4.8 seconds.
The onboard computer can also log a lot more than just 0-100km/h times. Lap timer? Check.
Wanna know how many lateral G you pulled on your last run to the shops? The SRT will tell you.
The engine does have a docile side if you can resist the urge to squeeze the loud pedal, with plenty of low-end torque to make highway cruising a doddle.
That said, fuel economy isn’t great. Our week-long average of 16.3 l/100km means it’s no camel.
But there is better news. The eight-speed automatic that’s bolted to that huge V8 is a massive step up from the antiquated five-speed of the pre-update 300 SRT. The shifts are slick, neatly rev-matched on downchanges and very crisp in manual mode.
It gets even better in the SRT’s Sport and hard-core 'SRT' settings too, holding revs higher to better exploit its torque curve and opening the car’s exhaust baffles to unleash a properly thunderous note.
And though it’s a heavy beast, it’s not quite the lead-tipped arrow you’d expect it to be.
The suspension is tied to the vehicle mode and gets mega-firm in the track-oriented modes, but slackens off to a more liveable setting in normal mode.
Yes, the nose will push wide if you enter a corner with far too much speed and it’s not the most neutral chassis around, but with the grip generated by the double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension (not to mention those grippy Goodyear Eagle F1s), it’s far from sloppy.
Besides the eight-speed auto, electric power assistance is new for the 300 SRT.
The steering feels a bit numb around centre, but weights up the more you turn it. Turn-in is sharp, so don’t mistake the 300 SRT for something that’s only ever comfortable on a drag strip - it can be hustled through a corner if you treat it with care.
And should you need to stop in a hurry, the 300 SRT will oblige with its 360mm/350mm ventilated rotors and Brembo calipers. Mess up big? The stability control reacts quickly to help bring it all back into line.
ANCAP rating: The Chrysler 300 has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Traction control (switchable), stability control (switchable), ABS, EBD, brake assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and seven airbags are standard.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
In terms of price, the Chrysler 300 SRT sits around midway between the automatic variants of the Ford Falcon XR8 and the HSV Clupsport R8 LSA, and that’s about where its performance stats rest too.
The Aussies might show the American a thing or two about chassis dynamics (especially HSV’s surprisingly nimble Clubsport), but that’s offset by the 300 SRT’s more boisterous character and 'Stars and Sripes' aesthetic.
If you’re a fan of big V8 sedans and not already locked into the Red or Blue camps, maybe take a peek at the SRT?
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
This is one loud, flashy and fairly obnoxious Yank, but we love it mightily. It’s a muscle car that can comfortably fit four adults, an adept cruiser yet more than capable of cranking out some fast laps at a track day.
Its thirst knocks it about, and, though quite a bit cheaper than a 'Clubby', both the Commodore SS V Redline and Falcon XR8 ($56,690 and $55,690 for the auto versions respectively) are perhaps better-resolved and certainly better buying as a performance car.
But neither has the bullish 'fist-in-the-face' presence of the 300 SRT.
Fuel economy, size and its licence-shredding potential work against it for daily-driver duty, but, if you’re willing to make a few sacrifices, the Chrysler 300 SRT will put a Texas-sized grin on your face every time you thumb its starter button.