Joel Helmes reviews the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT-8.
It’s always nice to get behind the wheel of a vehicle that’s a little unusual and has some grunt too! The Chrysler 300 SRT-8 certainly fills both of those columns.
But, there a few things that about the SRT-8 that prevent me from holding it in higher regard, which is a shame because on-paper this should be a really loveable and memorable car.
Firstly, the Chrysler 300 in itself is a good car; I particularly like the turbo-diesel version. The SRT-8 looks really good with 20” alloys and a low and mean stance and pricing, which starts at $66,000 for the flagship sporty model, is very reasonable.
However there are some elements of the vehicle that do hold it back and keep it from being great.
Firstly, the fuel consumption, now obviously a 6.4 litre Hemi V8 that produces 347kW and 631Nm is not going to return Toyota Prius like fuel economy. But, a claimed urban consumption figure of 20.4L/100km is nothing at all to boast about!
The saving grace here though was that I managed to average 14.3L/100km in city driving – a huge amount less than what I was expecting, despite this the 72 litre tank drained remarkably quickly (within three days).
Once again, yes I expect a high-performance car to use fuel, but in the end it becomes tiresome having to refuel every couple of days if you use an SRT-8 as your daily drive.
The green ECO light which displays on the driver info screen if you’re driving conservatively is obviously a sign that someone at Chrysler has a great sense of humour!
Aside from that I was also pretty disappointed by the exhaust note produced by the SRT-8 – it’s hopeless! If I’m using copious amounts of fuel and have the power to burn-off just about anything I choose to at the lights I want to hear it, the SRT-8 though just sounds ridiculously conservative!!
I was also frustrated by the vehicles single-minded determination to ensure the recirculate air setting remained switched off! This is not the first vehicle I’ve driven that wants you sucking the exhaust of the car in-front and it frustrates me no end, don’t take the choice away from me!
Fit and finish inside the cabin is just a little less than what you might expect too and for a large car the 300 has a remarkably tiny glove-box (centre console bin is roomy though).
It’s also time for Chrysler to ditch the old fashioned and clunky foot operated parking brake – a $66,000 sport/luxury model deserves a push-button electronic park brake, surely?
Alright, so it’s starting to sound like I didn’t like the SRT-8. That’s not true, I like it but I don’t love it and in this kind of car the heart has to rule the head if you’re signing on the dotted line.
What I like most about the SRT-8 is the crazy straight line speed that the big Hemi provides; you can also adjust the big girl’s suspension and engine settings by selecting either ‘Sport’ or ‘Track’ modes (Track mode is awesome!).
The 45 series tyres on the SRT-8’s 20” alloys and the suspension set-up do a remarkably good job of soaking up the bumps.
Other really good elements include terrific sound-deadening in the cabin (which doesn’t help you hear the already tame Hemi grumble), sporty and yet comfortable seats (front row heated and cooled), awesome harman kardon sound system, huge centre touchscreen, heaps of legroom, push-button ignition and a huge boot.
I was also really pleased by the simple and effective operation of the 300’s Adaptive Cruise Control system with incremental speed adjust control (a feature that I consider a must-have) and the thirteen year old boy inside of me loved being able to monitor any number of added gauges, timers and even g-force monitors on the big centre display!
Summing it up – hmm a bit of a hard one here. The Chrysler 300 SRT-8 is a great effort and the pricing, given the features you get, is reasonable. It also offers great acceleration, has a lot of street-cred and draws a great deal of attention.
In my opinion though it’s a bit over the top and really isn’t suited to day-to-day use (unless you own a petrol station), yet on the other hand it’s not that crazy that you will be itching to jump into it on the weekends.
It’s kind of trapped in between wanting to be sensible and conservative and being an all-out animal and that to me is a real shame.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 6.4 litre Hemi V8 developing 347kW and 631Nm
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $66,000