Car reviews - Chrysler - 300C - SRT-8 sedan
Brutal standing-start performance, copious midrange acceleration, highway cruising ability, high speed stability, brawny styling, full five-seater accommodation, European-style solidity, fuel consumption, strong brakes, V8 symphony, interior design and comfort, value for money
Room for improvement
Windy-road handling reveals it's a heavyweight, lacks the steering precision and body control of an FPV GT-P, some wind noise
21 Apr 2006
Chrysler has done a bang-up job injecting real muscle into its ‘It’ car, giving the company’s sedan flagship the necessary clout to cut it with HSV and FPV.
Indeed, many of the right ingredients are already present in the more pedestrian 300C – American brawn bellowing drive rear-wheel-wards within a spacious and accommodating four-door, five-seater sedan that also just happens to turn heads everywhere it goes.
Of course there's also enough Euro engineering nous (albeit decade-old know-how) behind that muscle for the Chrysler to feel as firmly planted to the blacktop as any of its modern Benz brethren.
Now, in the SRT-8, the performance wick has been turned up to wicked, firing up the 317kW 6.1-litre V8’s zero to 100km/h sprint time to around 5.5 seconds (compared with the 250kW 5.7-litre V8's 6.4-second pace).
And, sure enough, the big American’s straight-line performance is brutal, bolting off the line and exploding into mad mid-range acceleration at just a prod of the pedal.
A more impressive highway mile-reeler for the money doesn’t come to mind.
Fuel consumption isn’t as horrific as such gargantuan power outputs might suggest, with between 13.5 to 14.0L/100km recorded over a 440km drive from Albury to Canberra.
Brakes that bind with rabid bite add to the SRT-8’s terrific grand touring abilities, as does the relaxed steering, solid four-square high-speed stability and always-alluring V8 orchestrations. The Chrysler’s soundtrack itself is a smash-hit.
But a Falcon GT-P seems like it will eat this 300C for breakfast on fast snaking roads and tight winding switchbacks alike, with its much sharper steering, more impressive cornering prowess and greater body control.
On a mountain road the SRT-8 feels its weight. The wheel requires plenty of whirling and twirling, as well as constant adjustments, which soon becomes very tiresome.
Sadly it possesses little of the intimate road feel that makes the Falcon the greatest Australian road car ever – to use one of its 1970s ad lines.
Still, when the road is straight, the SRT-8 too is great.
Only the constant distant whooshing of the wind against the Chrysler’s upright panels upstages an otherwise refined and surprisingly restrained family car express.
Instead of gaudy and gauche, the SRT-8’s cabin is smart.
Well-bolstered and supportive front bucket seats envelop their occupants, while the rear bench – while still a three-seater – is also designed to better cosset the human body better than your run-of-the-mill 300C item.
Bespoke instrumentation – black and grey markings against a white background that glow an eerie green in darkness – and a sprinkling of leather here and metallic accents there, are about the only other sporty giveaways.
Barrelling down the bitumen with a big dose of American brawn, underpinned by German engineering, and priced to scare the hell out of the Australian muscle car manufacturers, the handsomely buff Chrysler 300C SRT-8 has a stellar future here to match its intergalactic (straight-line) performance.
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