Chrysler performance division SRT says it’s open to moving on from its famous 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine by the end of the decade in a bid to modernise the brand.

Speaking with CarAdvice at the Detroit auto show last week, SRT president and CEO Ralph Gilles said customers loved the Hemi but the company’s internal research showed they would accept change.

“We are in a very interesting time at SRT,” Gilles started. “Obviously we are still investing in our Hemi, it’s a great powerplant for us, it’s elegantly simple and makes phenomenal power and I think it’s still relevant today.

“Obviously it’s not lost on us what everybody else gets up to in different ways of [delivering] power. [But] I look at centre of gravity and contact patch, that’s what makes the car go fast and we are as competitive as any and I am very proud of that.”

Chrysler-300-SRT-8-Targa

The American performance brand does exceptionally well in Australia, with 28 per cent of all Chrysler 300s sold wearing the SRT badge, while 21 per cent of local Jeep Grand Cherokee buyers opt for the top-spec performance model.

Gilles said the reason SRT continued to stick with the Hemi was entirely based on customer demand.

“We are only making it because our customers want it. They love it. They love how it sounds, how simple it is, the elegance of it, it’s so reliable, and the torque.”

Nonetheless, he conceded the Hemi is likely to be replaced by the end of the decade and that its replacement may not be a naturally aspirated V8.

“I think it’s wide open after that. After the era of Hemi is over, there are all kinds of ways SRT is going to make power. We are going to look at all kinds of things, we would be foolish not to.”

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He defended SRT’s timing, considering Mercedes-Benz’s AMG, BMW’s M division and many other performance brands have all transitioned from naturally aspirated V8s to turbocharged powerplants.

“Everybody has their own schedule we don’t walk to the same drum as everybody else. In a way I am happy that we are further distinguished by our difference. You’re buying an entirely different proposition.”

No doubt the possibility of changing from a Hemi has been on SRT’s mind, with the brand monitoring its fans and customers to gauge potential reactions.

“We have already engaged them [via] social media or commentary as they debate these things on forums. They are pretty open-minded, the modern day muscle car enthusiast is becoming more and more open-minded. As you see, the most premium supercars in the world changing the way they do propulsion, that clearly makes it [changing from a Hemi] that much more digestible.”

Do you think SRT should stick with the Hemi? What kind of powerplant would fit the SRT brand?




  • Phil

    The Pentastar V6 is pretty decent. A couple of turbos on that would make it interesting. But under Fiat’s ownership, they could do some really interesting things with the Hemi. Using MultiAir on them would open up some possibilities. What would say a twin turbo 4L V8 MultiAir Hemi be capable of?

    • Darryl

      Such as the engine in the Maserati Quattroporte? Same company now.

      • Phil

        The V6 in the Quattroporte is the Pentastar, so yes there is already sharing going on. SRT could use that pretty much straight away.

        Maserati V8 – that’s a Ferrari design, but with a crossplane instead of flatplane crank. I was thinking of less dramatic change from the existing Hemi – such as new heads to provide 4 valve per cyl, SOHC with MultiAir. If they were desperate to not spend money, it could probably be done as OHV, as really you only need the camshaft for the exhaust valves and to drive the hydraulics for MultiAir to control the intake valves. Could even be done as a 3v design which would require the least amount of change – intake cam lobe would drive the MultiAir for two inlet valves, exhaust cam lobe drives pushrod, rocker arm to a single exhaust valve. Would be simple to do DoD as well. This would keep the compact dimensions of OHV while allowing better intake efficiency and more optimum chamber shape.

        I kinda like that last idea – OHV and MultiAir with direct injection. Would baffle the pushrod haters no end to have a yank V8 which virtually matches the efficiency of DOHC, while maintaining a size and weight advantage. And it would be cheap to maintain.

        And I actually meant that to be a 5L V8, not 4 – stupid fat fingers! For SRT Jeep, I think you’d still want the extra displacement to provide more torque off idle.

  • BrianDH

    Supercharging is screaming to be explored by Chrysler . . . would suit the SRT image perfectly.

  • chad

    Im not sure turbo charging sports cars is the way to go, like lexus said the other day, you want instant predictable response. Refining the N/A or supercharging is the way to go i think

    • guest

      Porsche and Nissan seem to get away with it. I don’t really see the problem unless 1. The car is using a 800hp+ turbo. 2. You have trouble selecting the right gear. 3. it is actually 1980 and turbo cars aren’t responsive yet.

      • Dudeface

        Not to mention BMW – all the M cars are turbo now I believe. A well engineered turbo motor has very minimal turbo lag and low boost threshold.

    • Nathan

      With twin-scroll turbo’s there is essentially no lag and you get full boost from very low rpm.

  • Cobrajet

    They should start making Hemi fours and sixes for the smaller models such as the Dart, and also put overhead cams on the V8s to give them Multiair capability.

  • Ruqis

    If it ain’t broken why fix it?

    • Honza

      if everyone had that mentality then we’d all be stuck in the stone ages…

  • Rocket

    Some technology transfer from Ferrari F1 engines would be beneficial to SRT. Smaller Hemi turbo engines sound OK if they can give the combination of performance, economy and reliability.

  • Rick

    I think getting rid of the HEMI would be a major mistake . All said and done the HEMI is a relatively efficient and reliable engine . Not to mention the marketing ability of the HEMI brand .
    I’m all for supercharging and turbocharging but I don’t understand why they would move from the current HEMI head , there’s huge power gains to be had with minimal mods . Look at the aftermarket .

  • Tom

    I hope they keep a V8 in the mix. It’s not
    about horsepower to me. V8s have: better throttle response, smoother running flatter powerband and that sound!

  • Chester Kruger

    There is no life after the HEMI !!!