Car reviews - Chrysler - 300 - SRT
Improved suspension control, transmission, technology, aural appeal
Room for improvement
Foot-operated park brake, rear legroom, bland boot fascia styling, paddle-shifters clash with audio controls
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26 Aug 2015
THE rumble accompanying the push-button start promises much – as it did in the predecessor – and the first few kilometres show the steps forward by the gangster-styled 300 SRT go beyond the extra three cogs in the automatic transmission.
That's a good start, as previous experience in the superseded car during a closed-road tarmac rally showed a yawning gap between second and third, a chasm now nicely filled by the eight-speed auto.
Shift speed is quicker and smoother, at least until the Sport or Track modes are selected.
Sharper gear changes come somewhat to the detriment of smoothness, but its to be expected – desired even – if such a mode is chosen.
But the other area where the SRT team has listened to the intended market is in the adaptive suspension, which previously sacrificed control for an attempt at ride comfort in the default mode and didn't hit its target.
The Core edition, released late in the previous model's lifecycle, sat firmer on a Bilstein-developed conventional system and was preferable for daily driving and express point-to-point work on a closed road.
The new model makes that choice much harder, as the adaptive system has delivered a better compromise – the unruly body control has been reined in without eroding ride comfort.
Wet roads and poor driving conditions did little to show off the outer edges of handling prowess – we'll have to wait for further wheel-time on dry familiar roads (please) – but the two-tonne sedan didn't become a handful in the adverse conditions either.
Cabin space remains an area where the 300 could improve. Chunky seatbacks eat into rear legroom and the cabin never feels as cavernous as the exterior suggests, but it's spacious enough to get four adults around without an issue provided rear occupants aren't beyond average height.
The foot-operated park brake is poorly positioned and needs to be consigned to the parts bin the paddle shifters are also a concern given the proximity to the audio controls on the rear of the steering wheel.
When not disturbed by gear-shifting equipment, the infotainment controls work well once familiar, but the paddles need to be shifted to take the sound system controls into account.
Following the new model is not as confronting as looking at in the mirror, with a large flat slab of metal between the tail-lights, boot-lip spoiler and rear bumper lacking much character, unlike the front which is unmistakably aggressive.
A brief stint to test the performance potential of the revamped launch control proved that – once the right revs were selected and traction was found the SRT quickly got going.
The sedan recorded (bear in mind that's according to its own on-board performance computer) 0-100 times in the 5.0-second realm and 13-second quarter mile sprints, crossing the line in the area of 180km/h (on a track in controlled conditions) – given the sodden surface an impressive set of numbers.
Starting at $59,000 plus on-roads for the Core and $69,000 for the better-equipped SRT, the Chrysler is dwelling between the Holden SS range and its cousins from HSV for price.
It's always had the grunt to get the job done but now delivers a set of road manners and ratios that puts it right back in the fight.
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