2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8
Date Posted: November 12, 2012
By Zack Spencer
The Chrysler SRT8 offers a powerful and refined sedan for a lot less than the imports.
The Chrysler 300 went through an overhaul last year, part of Chrysler's massive turnaround effort. The company has been rewarded with 35 months of consecutive sales growth, placing them ahead of General Motors, in terms of sales in Canada, and just behind Ford for top spot. The Chrysler 300 does not play a huge part of the sales success, their Minivan, Ram truck and Dodge Journey do the heavy lifting in terms of sales. What the 300 does represent is a flagship full-sized sedan that provides a nice balance of luxury and performance. This is a rear wheel drive car built off an older Mercedes Benz platform but it should be pointed out that Chrysler did heavily modify it last year when the car received a major facelift. This SRT8 is the most powerful version of the 300, so if you are in the market for a high performance luxury car, you don't have to spend the big bucks on a Mercedes, Audi or BMW, how about this American muscle?
When the modern version of the Chrysler 300 was introduced in 2005, it was a sales force. Buyers of all ages flocked to, the then, radical design. But there were detractors, especially people who put a premium on outward visibility. To compensate, this new car has 15 percent more glass to see through, including a bigger front window. Another objective was to make the car less ''brutal'' looking, softening the edges and making the 300 more upscale. ''SRT'' is becoming its own division at Chrysler, dedicated to providing enthusiasts a place to call home. This SRT8 model is perfect for those buyers who enjoyed this updated, refined model but still like a bit of ''brutal'' mixed into their daily commute. The car sits lower than the regular model, the front fascia sports a deeper spoiler, then the back has a bigger valance with meaty looking exhaust tips. Every SRT8 comes with 20-inch forged alloy wheels but if you get the optional Black Chrome Package, seen here, with the wheels are covered in black vapour chrome and blacked out front grille is.
The interior features a new steering wheel, padded with thick leather and squared off at the bottom. Very race inspired but also more comfortable due to a standard heating feature. Don't forget this car has to appeal to luxury buyers too. The seats are nicely bolstered up front and the dash is trimmed with a carbon look that befits the raciness of the car. The huge 8.4-inch Uconnect interface has a fairly simple and easy to see but sometimes is effected by glare. For those that want to use this car as a track weapon, there is a whole SRT8 section that displays G-forces, steering input and motor information much the way we first saw this in the Nissan GTR. Soft touch materials surround the driver and passenger, plus the faux suede seats are soft to the touch but also provide a level of backside grip, when cornering this big beast through the twisties.
There has to be meat behind the looks and there is. The SRT8 recives the first Chrysler application of their new 6.4L hemi engine, replacing the old 6.1L motor. This new power plant has 45 more hp and 50 lb-ft of torque but uses less fuel due to the cylinder management system that switches off half the cylinders under light load. This happens at a wider range now to improve the fuel economy by 21%. This car is not a basic sedan with a huge engine, it is actually a sophisticated machine. There are three drive settings that adjust not only the sensitivity of the transmission but also the adaptive suspension. They include the auto, sport and track settings. The auto setting is for bumpy city roads, it makes the car feel rather luxurious. The sports setting is the perfect choice for highway runs, the stiffer shocks and lively 5-speed automatic is a treat to push hard on the open road, whether it is straight or twisty. With 470hp and 470 lb-ft of torque this car is capable of a run to 100km/h in about 4 seconds, which is impressive but the car also handles very well. When not pushed hard it is very easy to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Hats off to Chrysler, this car feels very well built, the interior and exterior look fantastic and it has all the power to appeal to the muscle car crowd. Considering what this car offers, it is a relative bargain. With a starting price of $49,095 this SRT8 offers more power than BMW offers with the 550 sedan for roughly $25,000 less. I'm sure that most BMW buyers won't consider this SRT8 due to the lack of luxury, badge-appeal but know that the SRT8 is as much fun to drive. The build quality is very good, not a rattle or squeaks, the engine and tranny are velvety smooth, not clunky in any way. As mentioned, the SRT image has been so successful that it is a whole new brand in the Chrysler family. I'd like to meet more family members...
The Good, The Bad
A nicely refined performance sedan.
Loves to drink gasoline.
Power: 6.4L V8 with 470hp
Fill-up: 15.0L/8.7L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $49,095