Chrysler’s mighty muscle car
07 August 2012 | MARK JONES
The reputation of this car precedes it and in 2012 I doubt this is going to change very much, because if I was to own a 300C, it would be the SRT8.
In saying that in this latest range update you have a very good 3.0 CRD and 3.6 V6 model to tempt you into the brand – without all the noise and tyre smoke of the in your face SRT.
I will start by telling about the SRT8 as that is the model I drove first at the model range unveiling in Knysna in the Western Cape.
The Street and Racing Technology (SRT) boys want to take credit, right up front, for building Chrysler’s most powerful and best handling model ever.
But before you get under the bonnet or get to unleash the all the ponies, you visually take in the machine.
Perhaps some would argue the new front fascia that is carried through with the all-new grille and new Chrysler wing badge, is not as gangster as the previous model.
But I say choose the right exterior colour to properly off-set the new black chrome upper and lower grille surrounds, rear valance strip and 20 inch Black Vapor Chrome wheels that are standard fitment, and this new SRT8 looks every bit the part the old car did.
In this latest guise the SRT8 also sits a half inch lower than non-SRT models, and features new SRT-exclusive side sill cladding painted in matching body colour for that "planted" look.
The rear includes a unique lower fascia with accent bar, new four-inch round dual exhaust tips and a modified SRT8 deck-lid badge with new black accent.
That said and done, back to SRT engineering, and for this purpose the 6.4 litre HEMI V8 makes a very healthy 347 kW and 631 Nm of torque.
Good enough to see the 100 km/h dash done in around five seconds, the quarter mile in the high 12-second range.
A top speed of around 280 km/h along with stopping power from 100-0 km/h in 35 metres is claimed.
I have to say that at sea level where this monster engine is able to gulp as much air as it can, these figures felt on the spot.
Prodding the accelerator in anger meant massive black lines and expensive tyre smoke could be summoned up at will.
No real fuel consumption numbers were mentioned at launch, and why would you expect them to be? You want fuel economy then look at the 3.0 CRD model that I will touch on later.
It is claimed that despite the increase in power, there is a 21 percent fuel economy improvement on the highway. This is achieved by use of a new-for-2012 active valve exhaust system that allows the standard Fuel Saver Technology (four-cylinder mode) to engage over a wider rpm range.
And that is as good as our test drive got. We went straight up and down the N2.
But don’t expect much better than around 15 litres per 100 kilometres unless you are going downhill with the wind behind you, and seldom use the throttle or five-speed auto box that now can also be activated via steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
There is an Adaptive Damping Suspension (ADS) system that is tuned specifically for the Chrysler 300C SRT8 for 2012 – along with a performance fully hydraulic steering system that has also been improved with a new, heavy duty pump and revised gearing.
Again, although the ride and steering has all sharpened up for the better, don’t expect race car type handling. I doubt anybody does.
The interior is much improved. It combines some decent luxury accommodations along with performance oriented technology and appointments.
Added to this on the SRT8 you also get real carbon fibre trim pieces and new full-colour graphic EVIC with exclusive Performance Pages.
These include timers for 0-100 km/h, 200 metre and 400 metre times, 100-0 braking distance with lateral and longitudinal g-forces for that complete high performance feel.
The 300C SRT8 features more than 70 advanced safety and security features These include standard Keyless Enter-N-Go, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with segment-exclusive Ready Alert Braking and Rain Brake Support, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Blind-Spot Monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross Path (RCP) detection.
In addition standard front-row reactive head restraints, standard full-length side-curtain air bags, driver’s knee bag and standard front seat-mounted side-thorax air bags offer enhanced occupant protection to passengers in the event of a collision.
The state-of-the-art Uconnect Touch 8.4N system provides all of the next-generation mobile infotainment and multimedia items to keep passengers connected between any destination.
It also features a 900w, 19 speaker premium SRT performance audio surround-sound system from Harman Kardon.
Moving to the two other pretty much full house ‘all you can want’ models in the range, you have a powerful and very non SRT8 fuel efficient 176 kW 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel with 550 Nm of torque for the first time in the mix.
There is also a 210 kW 3.6 litre V6 petrol with 340 Nm of torque for those whose budget cannot stretch up to the flagship petrol model.
Both these cars come with the same sort of full house safety and luxury features of the SRT8, but only minus some of the attitude.
Yeah, so at 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres claimed for the turbo diesel it uses less fuel than them all.
And the 3.6 V6 is the best priced model out of the range, but I would still opt for the SRT8 due to its unapologetic performance personality and looks.
Pricing: Chrysler 300C 3.6 litre V6 8spd R479 990; Chrysler 300C 3.0 litre CRD 5spd R539 990; Chrysler 300C SRT8 6.4 litre V8 5spd R629 990.
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