Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT-8.
Chrysler’s high performance 300, the SRT-8 offers an exhilarating drive…particularly in a straight line.
Powered by a mighty 6.4 litre Hemi V8 that produces 347kW and 631Nm, acceleration is nothing short of spectacular, with 100km/h on the dash in less than 5 seconds.
The five-speed auto is aggressive and a little agricultural, and in sport mode the gear changes are almost violent.
It’s in the twisty stuff that the big 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT-8 comes a little undone.
Taughtly sprung and running on licorice strap like 20inch tyres (P245/45 ZR20), you’re never in any doubt of the condition of the road.
It would be hard to describe it is as a great ride, but you will acclimatise to it, and possibly even enjoy it.
When you do get the bit between your teeth and up the pace, the front end does lack bite in the bends, and can be a bit skittish if you encounter mid corner bumps.
The Chrysler 300 SRT-8 is the definition of an American muscle car, and requires a distinct driving style to get the best out of it.
Entering a corner it’s important to be hard on the four pot Brembo brakes to arrive slowly & deliberately, then you can slingshot yourself out with the intoxicating 347kW/631Nm.
The electronics will intervene with too much right pedal, but the traction control allows for a little bit of bum out, keeping you in touch with the back of the car while also on the straight and narrow.
Once you adopt the style, the Chrysler 300 SRT-8 is quite quick & great fun, although the HSV & FPV equivalents would leave it in their wake on a winding mountain road.
There’s a lot to like about the 300. The soundtrack of the Hemi V8 is trouser tingling at high revs, and fills the cabin with a subdued yet angry rumble when behaving in 50km/h zones.
The interior is a fairly lush place. Swathes of high quality leather and a magnificent soft blue back lighting give it a futuristic feel that’s quite elegant.
The big ventilated seats are adjustable in almost every direction and the steering wheel is the perfect size and feels great.
This is a big car but interior space isn’t great, and while the high waisted look really adds to the gangster appeal, it restricts vision & adds to a sense that things are closing in on you.
And rear legroom isn’t as good as you’d think it would be.
The Chrysler 300 SRT-8 is endowed with the high end Harmon Kardon sound system which is just brilliant, as is the operation of the adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning systems that are all standard.
The big 8.4 inch high resolution colour display hosts the somewhat simplistic, but effective sat-nav, reverse camera and climate system controls.
Vehicle settings are also there, including the Sport mode button, which I found a bit cumbersome on a touch screen…give me a proper Sport button any day!
The SRT-8 software also displays on the screen and includes oil & coolant temps, pressures, G-Force read outs, and kilowatt and torque outputs, which is an awful lot of fun, but can be distracting.
I averaged about 17.5 litres of premium unleaded per 100km over about 800km of city & country driving.
As acceleration is so damn brisk, you can rarely explore this car on the edge (without breaking several federal & state laws), so most of the 800km was driven reasonably gingerly.
There’s no doubt you’ll stand out in the Chrysler 300 SRT-8 with it’s big gaping mouth and in your face LED’s, but from some angles it’s an incredibly handsome machine and definitely an extrovert.
At $66,000 it represents decent value, and packs in an awful lot more power than it’s Holden & Ford counterparts, although both the Holden and Ford are better all-round performance packages.
The longer I spent in the Chrysler 300 SRT-8, the more I liked it. It has a real charm about it and I can understand how you could fall head over heels for it.
If you want V8 racetrack style performance be sure to check out the HSV GTS, but if you want endless power in a sinister Armani suit, you need to schedule a drive in a Chrysler 300C SRT8.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 6.4 litre Hemi V8 developing 347kW and 631Nm
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $66,000