• Value for money; performance credentials; cornering ability for car its size; fun-factor
  • Five-speed gearbox; no rear parking sensors standard

OUR RATING
8 / 10



Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review

The Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core is a contender for best-value-for-money performance car in Australia. For $56,000 you get a rear-wheel-drive American muscle car with a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 that pumps out a staggering 347kW of power and 631Nm of torque. At least as a power-per-dollar barometer, that is unmatchable.

Chrysler has stripped out its flagship 300 SRT8 by removing some luxury items and advanced safety features, substituted the adaptive dampers with standard suspension and reduced the price by $10,000. The idea was born in Australia but it proved so good that even the Americans have adopted it for their home market.

Unlike most cars where the price in the USA is significantly less than that it is in Australia (which we’ll cover in an upcoming feature article), the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core retails for US$45,395 in California.

Factor in the current exchange rate and that comes out to about $51,000 AUD; add in some shipping costs and the price of modifying the car to pass our draconian legislation and seriously, it starts to make you wonder why something like a base model Porsche 911 Carerra starts from $84,300 USD in California and yet is priced from $206,500 locally. (You could use any high-end vehicle in Australia as an example, though, thanks to the iniquitous Luxury Car Tax.)

The value for money proposition aside, does the 300 SRT8 make a good performance car?

When it comes to reviewing performance cars we generally find a great stretch of road, one that suits the type of car, have an enthusiastic drive, and then assess it against similarly priced vehicles.

Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review

In the case of the 300 SRT8 Core, Chrysler suggested we try something different. Race it in Targa Adelaide. Doing a Targa in a large, near-2000kg rear-wheel-drive US muscle car would not exactly be something we’d do often and it would be a lie to say we weren’t a little bit worried about how the beast would go through tight corners and winding roads. Further concerning was the weather forecast, which showed constant rain for the first three days of the four-day rally.

Our black Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core was prepped with a Mopar front strut brace, exhaust system, cool air box and race-spec brake fluid. All parts (except the brake fluid) one can buy straight from a Chrysler dealer.

The 300 SRT8 Core gets the same HEMI V8 engine and five-speed Mercedes-derived transmission as the flagship model but misses out on the adaptive suspension. From the outset this would look like a negative, but it’s not the case for the Core.

The issue with the flagship model 300 SRT8 is that the ride is a little too soft in auto mode, which makes it float around, and a little too hard in sport mode, which makes it generally too firm. The Core gets a standard suspension setup which, while certainly on the firm side, is still very compliant and doesn’t crash over bumpy roads. It’s almost the perfect balance of both worlds.

From the outside, Chrysler hasn’t done much to take away from the SRT8 Core’s appeal. The Core still gets 20-inch alloy wheels with four-piston Brembo calipers with 14.2 and 13.8-inch (vented and slotted) rotors for the front and rear. It looks pretty darn similar to the flagship, except for a few things like adaptive forward lighting that can adjust the beam of the bi-xenon headlamps to the intended direction of the car.

Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review

The rear even gets a mean-looking “Core” badge that, if anything, adds more to the car’s appeal than the flagship model. Point being, the 300 SRT8 Core remains a tough-looking American muscle car regardless of the price drop. Our ‘Targa’ car looks even better, of course, with some CarAdvice decals!

Where the $10,000 price drop starts to show is the interior. There are no heated and ventilated front seats or heated rear seats. The number of speakers has dropped from 19 to six, while cloth rather than Nappa leather with perforated suede is used for the upholstery.

On the technology side, there’s no rear parking sensors, camera, or satelite navigation (but the 8.4-inch screen with all the SRT8 gauges remains; and sensors and sat-nav are optional), while it also misses out on adaptive cruise control (regular cruise control is still standard), blind spot monitor and rear cross-path detection system. These are not the ‘core’ of a performance car.

Through four days of actual rallying, there’s a lot we can say about the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core’s performance credentials. Firstly, it’s undeniably a lot better than one would think. Images of large American muscle cars built just for straight lines is so far removed from reality that it’s actually laughable.

The sport seats, although not leather, are still very reassuring and we felt well supported pushing hard through corners. The interior itself is still of good quality, but is easily recognisable as an American car with big plastic dials and buttons.

Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review

We were so pleasantly surprised by just how well the Core turned in to and powered out of corners, even in torrential rain, that we started to question whether this was genuinely a stock car. We did our own inspection to make sure nothing funny had been done to the car’s setup, and after suspicions were set to rest, we remained confused as to how the Core was doing what it was doing.

In the rain the Goodyear performance tyres (245/45/R20) gripped on for dear life and although we pushed it past the grip limits only a few times, the general feel was towards oversteer rather than understeer. In fact, understeer was barely an issue even in the dry. The rear end would happily step out without much persuasion. and not in a manic sense but in that nice controllable manner which only encouraged you to do it again.

The party trick of the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core is its ability to drive like a significantly smaller car than it really is.

Going around a corner which is sign-posted as a “caution 40” at 83km/h with the foot down, in the wet, is a marvellous feeling in any car, more so when you realise it’s a 300.

During our four days in Targa Adelaide we experienced the SRT8 at its limits, thanks in part to the closed road conditions but also the navigator notes that allowed us to push the car far past an ‘enthusiastic drive’.

Switchbacks and constant left and rights through sweeping blind bends would upset most cars but the 300 SRT8 Core is smooth and planted. The nanny controls, which can be switched off, tend to stay in the background and only kick in when absolutely necessary. Even during the rain-soaked stages, which saw the end of multiple contestant cars – including one into a river – the 300’s traction and stability controls remained cool and without much interference.

Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review

Steering feel is also a positive for this car, a difference to the flagship that has its adaptive suspension issues flow into the steering system. The Core, while not exactly pure in its precision, is still quietly confident and provides reasonable feedback when the front end starts to play up.

The hindrance the 300 SRT8 and SRT8 Core share is the transmission unit. The five-speed automatic gearbox is, for lack of a better word, rubbish.

Most modern transmissions are smooth with generally seamless gearchanges. This is also the case in the newly updated Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, which uses a brilliant German built ZF eight-speed automatic, but the five-speed in the 300 SRT8 range is the complete opposite. Even in regular city commuting you can feel the 300 SRT8 change gears through the seat. Push it to redline and there’s a sudden ‘bang’ with each gear change.

The steering wheel-mounted paddles are primarily for show and, given the gearboxes issues, take a monumental amount of time before responding to input commands.

Too many times we came into a corner at speed, begging for the transmission to drop from third to second and being disappointed by the time it took for the change to occur. On occasions it would simply ignore our request to change down – or up – without giving any visual or audible warning.

Transmission aside, it’s hard to fault the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core for what it is, an honest American muscle car without most of what we dislike about American cars – in that it can well and truly go around corners.

Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review

It’s exceptionally well priced, just under the $60,000 luxury car tax threshold, which means Rudd or Abbot won’t be stealing any of your cash, and given what else is on offer for the same coin, it’s hard not to recommend.

It beats its Australian rivals from HSV and FPV from a bang for your buck factor and having spent four days rallying it around some of the best roads Australia has to offer, it’s by no means an easy car to hand back.

Check back next week when bring you a “Targa Experience” story.


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CHRYSLER 300 BREAKDOWN

Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Review
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  • $29896495

    Interesting story. In regards the tax threshold and cars like Porsche, even subtracting the tax they are obscenely over priced. That said hopefully Chrysler has started a trend, down for the mainstream part of the market at least which will highlight to the nongs who defend high pricing how ludicrous it is. Whether from Europe, Japan or the US.

  • Rick

    Sounds like a great car . When are they going to update the transmission ?

  • chir0nex

    Chrysler have definitely been bringing prices back down to earth.

    The 300C SRT8 really makes me want to check it out in their showrooms because its pretty much one of the few cars where we don’t get ripped off on (toyota 86 being the other). So much power and character for such a reasonable price.

    300C SRT8 Core or 318i? i know which way i’d go.

    • Rocket

      Hopefully Ford do the right thing with new Mustang when it arrives also. I would like to see the Charger here in the SuperBee also as it is one tough looking car.

      • Pal

        Yes, i would buy the Charger SuperBee. I would also like to see the 300 in SRT trim that uses the V6 with the Kw of that of the Challenger. I would seriously consider it.

        • chopstar87

          I have a 2013 300c luxury (v6 petrol) and the v6 with 210kw and the 8speed auto is a great set up. Srt6 would be interesting with been a little lighter and a bit more power then my luxury. For the size and weight it goes and handles well. Off the line isn’t the best due to lack of torque and weight, but once moving or in gear it moves really well for a car that weights 1900kgs and is a v6.. Still does flat 7 to 100.

    • JooberJCW

      Really chrysler is doing it to be nice? Its more so that they are pricing to be competitive against the commie ssv v8s and the only way they can do it is strip out the car. Not simply dialling down the price.

  • barry

    The interior looks great the whole package looks cool,it is what it is.Not fuel efficient a bast#rd to park,not going to squeeze in gaps in the traffic.
    But its so different to all the other vanilla cars on the road.And the cool factor is freezing.

  • Karl Sass

    Getting paid to race an SRT8 at Targa? So awesome!!

  • robbo222

    Good for Chrysler for a bringing the 300C over at a very reasonable price. Clearly some of the prestige Euro brands are ripping-off Aussies with sky-high prices. Porsche is one of the worst offenders. The same thing was happening in the UK in the late 90s as car companies sensed a market they could exploit. The press were calling it ‘rip-off Britain’ as car companies gouged UK motorists with similar cars being much cheaper in mainland Europe. The same old excuses were wheeled out: expensive to make it right hand drive, transport costs, tax differences, currency fluctuations etc. It was all a myth as cars could be sourced in Europe as right hand drive and brought to the UK for huge savings: a mate of mine brought over a RHD BMW from Holland in 1999 for thousands off the UK list price with full warranty. What brought about change was the involvement of the government, the press and in particular the Consumers’ Association in highlighting the issue and forcing car companies to uphold EU law.

    Of course car companies can charge whatever they like in Australia providing people buy the product and they make a profit. The problem for the Aussie car buyer is that Australia is a small market and it is difficult to source cars except from the official Australian dealers. There are too many laws and red tape making it difficult to import a car from abroad. So if we want a new Porsche we have to go to a dealer and bend over.

  • Robin_Graves

    Wow, sounds like a great drive. If only you could option leather and a decent gearbox.

    • O123

      Cant be long till the 8 speed is put in it

  • super_hans

    Its good enough for Heisenberg..

    • Tom

      Yeh I love it in that show. Chrysler sure picked one of the best shows ever to advertise their SRT8 and Challenger in.

      If they decided to make the Challenger in RHD and import it here for a reasonable price I would buy one in a heartbeat.

      The 300 is just a little too big for me. I want that HEMI 6.4L but in a slightly smaller package like the Dodge Charger.

      • $29896495

        At the moment all cars you mentioned are the same size. Charger is a 300 with a few body mods.

        • Tom

          I meant Challenger. I’m pretty sure its shorter than a 300 and a little bit lighter. Same width but shorter. I’d have to check the dimensions. Yeh Charger is the same size as the 300.

  • Guest

    great value for money, great looking car aswell. I wonder how many people it will grab from other performance cars?

  • Dominique Vøn Hütch

    I love the blatant nowhere to run or hide ‘yes you Bimmer and Porsche’ element of the pricing. The only issues are the gearbox as mentioned in article, and imo…leather. Just chuck some skin in it for god’s sake all the other deleted optiion more than make up for the 10k less that is charged. Other than that great. How much is a base fpv GS or T?

  • Seano

    Luxury car tax pays for schools and roads and hospitals, I wish media would stop saying tax is bad, in fact it paid for the copper in the groud that allowed me to vent on the Internet! If you want to avoid the LCt buy a cheaper car.

    • Rick

      At around $60k LCT it’s not exactly a “luxury” car is it ? have you ever been in a Toyota prado ? There’s nothing luxury about them . Maybe they should put a luxury tax on houses over say $400k and a luxury tax on coffee that’s over $4 a cup . If the government didn’t waste so much money we wouldn’t have to pay so many taxes

    • Spendin Kevin

      So what paid for the schools, hosps, cooper on the ground in America where there is NO exorbitant LCT? Dont say borrowed money , since the govt has ALSO buried us in $200 b DEBT.

      • $29896495

        Why not say borrowed money. America debt from borrowing dwarfs ours. Their credit is shot. Before the paying gov businesses were sold taxes didn’t need to be so high. After the libs got rid of them all, now taxes of different sorts are all either government lib or labor will have to get money to produce infrastructure. Your whinge is pointless and ill informed.

    • Tom

      Hahahahaha hilarious. You are actually gullible enough to believe that spin? Are you serious? When was the last major road built in a major city that the government paid for? Or the last new school that the government paid for? Your taxes I’m afraid are squandered on things that have no effect on your day to day life. The rest you actually pay for out of your own after tax dollars.

      We are one of the highest taxed developed nations in the world. Name me one other country in the world that taxes you an automatic 50% on a second job? Just pathetic.

      • $29896495

        Since the Libs sold of money producing ventures, it’s the only way our government can make money. Trouble is you can’t turn back the clock. NBN when complete will bring in revenue but you have to build it first and keep control.

    • Corporal Clegg

      So where’s the LCT on caviar, yachts, jewelry, houses?
      It’s the most disgusting, biased and unfair envy tax in existence.

  • For the Rd

    MB did a similar thing with the new A class pricing, pushing BMW and Audi way down. Finally people are waking up

  • Tommy

    “No rear parking sensors as standard” ???

    This is not true, I’ve checked with both the importer and Chrysler dealers here in Australia and the car does come with front and rear parking sensors as standard.

    If you look on carsales also every Core for sale is equipped with front and rear sensors. You can actually identify them in the front and rear bumpers.

    Don’t think it comes with camera or park assist like the SRT8 normal.

    So it’s only the 5 speed gearbox that is a bit of a let down. Strongest automatic gearbox (from the Mercedes days) I’ve ever used. But extremely rough in it’s up changes and not as refined as say a ZF unit.

    All this car needs now is the ZF 8 speed which is already being used in the Jeep SRT (Jeep uses the 4WD version) the 300 would used the same one in the hipo Jags.

    Some fatter front and rear rims to accommodate wider rubber wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Jim Best

    The author wrote “(You could use any high-end vehicle in Australia as an example, though, thanks to the iniquitous Luxury Car Tax.)” Only a moral bankrupt would make a statement like that.

Chrysler 300 Specs

SRT8 CORE : 6.4L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 5 SP AUTOMATIC - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
CHRYSLER
Model
300
Variant
SRT8 CORE
Year
2013
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
6.4L
Cylinders
V8
Max. Torque
631Nm @  4150rpm
Max. Power
347kW @  6100rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
172.5W/kg
Bore & Stroke
96x83mm
Compression Ratio
10.2
Valve Gear
OVERHEAD VALVE
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
5 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
72.3
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
13L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
2012
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1478mm
Length
5089mm
Width
1905mm
Ground Clearance
122mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11.5
Front Rim Size
9x20
Rear Rim Size
9x20
Front Tyres
245/45 R20
Rear Tyres
245/45 R20
Wheel Base
3052
Front Track
1630
Rear Track
1615
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Standard Features
Comfort
Auto Climate Control with Dual Temp Zones
Control & Handling
Adaptive Damping Control, 20 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program
Driver
Cruise Control, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio Compact Disc Player
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  12,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
28-D-11
Country of Origin
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA