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Driven: Brutish Chrysler 300C SRT8

2012-08-03 08:05

A BRUTE DONNING A TUXEDO: The Chrysler 300C SRT8 pushes the envelope on large luxury performance sedans without compromising on comfort or ride quality with a V8 engine note to salivate over.

With 347kW on tap, bold styling and a monstrous V8 roar, Chrysler has unleashed the performance-tuned version of its flagship big sedan into South Africa. We got behind the wheel of the brutish 300C STR8!

The next generation Chrysler 300C has arrived in South Africa and it remains a big, brash, Canadian-built, 'American' sedan with bucke loads of personality and opulence.

The 2012 SRT8 has improved on its predecessors' shortcomings with greater luxury, more performance and cooler refinement and is available in two engine choices - 3.6 V6 petrol and 3.0 diesel - with one rather-well-kitted spec level.

Image gallery.

The automaker’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) performance engineering team, the same group which brought us the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 earlier in 2012, tinkered with the new 300c to create a monstrous third engine option in the line-up.


The standard 300C is an opulent, though unabashedly 'American', sedan but the SRT8 is a brute in a tuxedo and a continuation of the automaker’s muscle-car heritage dating back to the 1955 Chrysler 300C.

Chrysler South Africa's head of marketing, Guy Franken, said: “This is another SRT car from the Chrysler stable that looks like heaven and goes like hell."

The all-new 300C SRT8 has a number of style change over the standard 300C and builds on its muscle-car legacy with styling enhancements courtesy of Mopar. At the front, choose from a number of grille options ranging from black mesh to chromed slats. New black-chromed upper and lower grille surrounds and a rear chromed strip differentiate it from the standard model. In a hat-tip to its muscle car heritage, the rear benefits from tapered wings.

The model rides on huge 21" wheels and 245/45 ZR20 tyres with a number of bold rim options. The SRT8 variant sits a half inch (12.7mm) lower than standard models and has new side sills painted in body colours. The rear has been tweaked slightly and new 10cm diameter exhaust tips have been added along with special badging and black accents.


The stylish theme continues in the cabin with carbon-fibre treatment replacing the wood finish though, like the standard model, the interior shows aesthetic restraint. Ergonomic controls paired with large knobs and a touch screen make it very user-friend.

The STR8 version has a number of driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, collision warning and a blind-spot alert. The instrument cluster has also been tweaked with blue backlit performance dials. A special heatable sports steering wheel with paddle shifts has been added.

Racing enthusiasts will be well pleased as the model offers performance data such as revs, gear ratios and the all-important 0-100km/h times on an electronic information unit.

The overall package is one of a retro-looking luxury sedan that’s as assertive in its performance as it is to gawk at. If you were looking for a way to stand out, the SRT8 demands attention. It’s just so ostentatious that you can’t help but like it.


So what’s it like to drive this brute? Powering the 300C SRT8 is a monster 6.4 V8 Hemi capable of 347kW at 6100rpm and a torque peak of 631Nm at 4150rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed auto instead of the eight-speed used in the standard models as the latter cannot handle the huge torque. Two driving modes, Normal and Sport, are offered in either auto or manual gear/paddle shifting.

The sport mode adds a hold function giving the driver full control of the transmission.

What this translates to is grin-inducing power as the Hemi engine rockets the hefty sedan to 100km/h in five seconds and a top speed of 280km/h. There’s nothing quite like the throaty roar of a V8 and, courtesy of a new active exhaust system the engine grunt is pure bliss for any petrolhead, albeit short lived. The grumble of the engine is a fleeting bliss as the drone of road noise soon fills the cabin.

Sadly, it seems that since Chrysler's stuck to its luxury roots that the SRT-tuned version isn’t as visceral as it could’ve been. The power is certainly there as you tear down a highway, it just feels too sedate, too controlled.

At more than R600 000, fuel will probably be the least of your concerns especially since the car has a claimed fuel consumption of 13 litres/100km (72-litre tank)…  Be prepared to make friends with petrol attendants as you’ll be seeing them often.

You won't be doing the planet any favours, either, as the 300C SRT8 has an emissions rating of 303g/km.

In terms of handling, despite the play on the steering wheel, the steering is responsive and the 300C SRT8 is poised on the road and is quite “chuckable” when it comes to taking on twists and bends. It’s exhilarating to push the V8 300C to its limit considering you’re hauling 2427kg of metal around.

Kudos to Chrysler’s engineers as the adaptive suspension copes with bends and undulations superbly. The adaptive shock-absorbers have two modes – auto and sport. The former adjusts depending on driving conditions and is suited for daily commuting. Sport is tailored for more-spirited driving situations.


The SRT team has done an outstanding job with the new model and the 300C SRT8 is a sublime driver's car, especially if you’re looking for a large performance sedan without a German badge.

Chrysler 300C SRT8 6.4L V8 – R629 990

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