Chrysler’s new 300 SRT proves that bigger is sometimes better.
I thought the 300S I drove a few weeks ago was good but as the old saying goes, there’s no replacement for displacement. Why settle for just 5,700cc when you can have 6,400? Indeed, the bigger 6.4-litre V8 completely transforms this handsome saloon.
This Chrysler (it doesn’t actually have any Chrysler badges on it, just those oh-so meaningful SRT letters on the grille and boot) does the 0-100kph sprint in 4.5 seconds, has a healthy 485bhp — that’s 122 horses more than the S — and 102Nm of incremental torque too, at 637Nm. You can feel every one of them nail you to the driver’s seat, but with traction control switched off, you’re not going anywhere. This proves equally as thrilling as shooting off into the horizon. This SRT loves leaving great big clouds of smoke and endless sets of 11s, thanks to the extra 700 cubes.
Push the start button and the Hemi awakens with an angry growl. The tailpipes emit such a throaty roar that revving the V8 before you set off becomes standard procedure. Hammer the extra-loud pedal (with traction control employed) and you’re met with unrelenting torque; it pulls strongly well above its 4,250rpm peak, so picking a long stretch is advisable because you’ll run out of road or bravery before it runs out of puff.
The naturally aspirated V8 is mated to an eight-speed automatic and it’s a good job that old five-speed was ditched, otherwise this brute of a motor would have made minced meat out of it. It shifts in a perfectly civilised manner when you’re cruising but in Track mode, it rams home the gears with unprecedented force. You’ll be looking in the rear-view for a wrecking ball, such is the sensation. The 5.7-litre doesn’t really bother the automatic much, but the 6.4 gives it a lot more to think about, and it copes admirably.
The previous iteration was GOOD, but the new SRT has added more POTENCY to that formula, FINE-TUNED it and delivered a red-hot package
It settles quickly in the sweet spot, but you know you’re just a kick down away from an assault on the senses.
It carries some clout, so it’s a relief the stoppers are massive fourpiston Brembos (360mm in diameter up front and 340mm at the back) that can bring the hefty, 2,050kg 300 to a sure-footed halt. You feel the weight in the corners but this SRT remains flat and composed.
It isn’t all about performance though; it has lots of gadgetry to keep you amused if the burnouts become boring. A new 7.0in TFT screen between the speedo and tacho tells you everything you need to know, while the 8.4in touchscreen in the centre console has an SRT menu that lets you set the 300’s suspension (it has adaptive dampers that can be stiffened or softened), steering (a nicely weighted electrical system that becomes heavier in Track mode to aid stability) and throttle response.
You can also keep track of 0-100kph times, top speeds and a lot more (it even has a g-metre) via the specs-enthusiast-grade software.
Throw in active safety features like full auto braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist along with a well-crafted cabin (the seats get leather and Alcantara trim and are very comfy, making them ideal for long drives and useful when you throw this saloon around a little thanks to their cornering support) and what you have is a family car that’ll really excite once the domestic duties are done.
The previous iteration was good, but the new SRT has added more potency to that winning formula, fine-tuned it all and delivered it in a red-hot package with a more aggressive front bumper, LED lights and eye-catching 20in alloys. And with that massive Hemi up front, catch it if you can.
The 300’s plush leather seats make it ideal for long drives and when you’re throwing it around, thanks to their cornering support