December 30, 2009 > Auto Review
WOW! It's not often that I can describe a car in just one word, but that's all I need to describe the SRT version of Chrysler's 300C. Just plain WOW! The SRT8 delivers tremendous performance premium amenities, a good ride, and great braking for a reasonable price in a car that is made in the USA.
I am sure you all have seen plenty of 300Cs driving around on the roads. It is the four-door, 5-passenger, rear wheel drive sedan that has been available since 2005. But the SRT8 is NOT your run of the mill 300C. To start with, SRT stands for "Street and Racing Technology." So the 300C SRT8 must have plenty of goodies, right? Right!
Starting with the motor, let's slide in a 6.1-liter, HEMI V-8, that pounds out 425 HP and 420 pound feet of torque. Next we choose Chrysler's AutoStick, five-speed, manually shiftable, automatic transmission. The drive line then sends all that energy back to an Anti-Spin differential so we can distribute the power evenly to both back wheels. The engine and drive train makes a wonderful sound at full tilt. This package delivers zero to 60 mph in the low 5 second range (my best was a 5.30). Zero to 100 mph to zero can be done in less that 17 seconds in a big car that weighs in at 4178 pounds. The EPA tests produced 13 & 19 MPG on premium gas.
The SRT8 has a fascinating item on the list of options you can buy. It is a one-day driving experience designed for SRT owners at a race track near your house. It is run by the Richard Petty Racing School and includes professional instruction by their instructors.
The interior of the SRT8 is very nice. The many power adjustments for the front seats can be used to make them very comfortable and supportive. Pedals can be adjusted to get the right leg room for you. Back seats are also very comfortable for long trips. A SIRIUS back seat TV system is available. It can be viewed in a split screen option so that two different shows can be viewed at one time. Wireless headphones are standard equipment so that all of the different audio selections in use at one time won't confuse everyone in the car.
The computer in the dashboard has a special performance range of readouts. You can measure your 0-60 times (and I did), eighth-mile and quarter-mile times, breaking distance lengths, and lateral acceleration. It is impossible to read the G-meter while you are driving, so it records and holds the highest values; you can then look at them when you have stopped.
In 1969 my Mom bought a 1967, 427 Wedge head (400+ HP) Dodge Cornet coupe from a friend. She would let me drive it occasionally. The SRT8 reminded me a lot of the Wedge head Dodge. Both were built to be fast. Both were fun to drive. But in 1967, auto makers cared less about brake performance and handling. The old Dodge couldn't turn or stop well. However, Chrysler's SRT8 engineers have really focused on braking and handling. The SRT8 gets huge Brembo brakes both front and rear for great 60 to zero distances of 110 feet. Then the SRT engineering group tuned the suspension for better handling performance than the stock 300C.
A 300C SRT8 can a little pricy. The base price of $44,160 isn't bad for all the performance the car delivers. But then you must pay a $750 destination charge and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax. Adding the supplemental air bags, a navigation system, an entertainment system, and a better sound system brought the total to $50,520. But if you "wanna go fast", the SRT8 delivers... big time!
By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists