There are few cars out there that makes less sense than the new Chrysler 300 SRT. But, with a burbling V8 and bucketloads of power, we absolutely love it!
Three, two, one, go! The rear tyres erupt into wheel spin on the wet runway and before long we have hit 100km/h with the bellowing 6.4-litre Hemi V8 of the 2015 Chrysler 300 SRT roaring. But, the unrelenting torque surge isn't over yet with the four-door sedan blitzing past 160km/h and on to 200km/h where we run out of both runway and bravery.
Australia is currently the first market in the world to sample this beast. It's also a beast that won't be sold in the USA — the only other left-hand drive market being the Middle East.
Chrysler chose the Temora Aviation Museum and associated airstrip in regional New South Wales to launch the hellish and brazen V8 brute, which is priced from $59,000 in entry-level 300 SRT Core trim. Those after more luxury and features can opt for the $69,000 feature-packed 300 SRT, which is the car we took away after the launch to sample for a few more days.
Both models feature a mammoth 6.4-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine that produces 350kW of power and 637Nm of torque (up 3kW and 6Nm over the outgoing model), mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox in place of the outgoing model's five-speed clunker.
They also both get four-piston Brembo brakes with slotted rotors on all four corners with the front-end measuring 360mm in diameter and the rear coming in at a huge 340mm — they need to be huge considering the car's hefty 1946kg and 1965kg respective kerb weights for the 300 SRT Core and 300 SRT.
The latest Chrysler 300 revision is more than just cosmetic with both models getting revised suspension tunes and electrically assisted steering. The 300 SRT steps it up a notch with newly-tuned adjustable suspension dampers that offer adaptive response on both the compression and rebound cycles and can respond within 35ms to changes on the road's surface.
An SRT button underneath the 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system gives the driver an opportunity to switch between Street, Sport and Track modes, each varying an aspect of the car's tune, including stability control intervention, steering weight and gearbox shift speeds. In its sportiest Track setting, the car is able sharpen shift times by 40 per cent, giving you the feel of a dual-clutch gearbox without the clunkiness off the line.
At the rear, both variants sit on 20-inch alloy wheels, with the 300 SRT Core getting a satin black finish, while the more premium 300 SRT gets a polished alloy appearance. Both ride on 245mm wide rear tyres that deliver torque through a Getrag mechanical limited-slip differential. It's an effective unit that keeps the car moving in a straight line and allows the driver to hold the car more predictably when it does step out for some side-window driving.
Inside the cabin, the 300 SRT Core sticks with cloth trim and also gets the 8.4-inch UConnect screen, but misses out on satellite navigation, adjustable suspension and seat heating and ventilation. It's a basic package, but comes with everything you need to fulfil the bang-for-buck proposition. Some of the key items include dual-zone climate control, automatic windscreen wipers and bi-xenon headlights.
In terms of infotainment, the 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system in the 300 SRT Core comes with DAB+ digital radio streaming, Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming, USB connectivity and auxiliary input, along with six-speakers.
The more expensive 300 SRT core goes to town on features, bumping the seat trim up to an Alcantara/leather combination that includes heating in both rows and cooling in the front row. The steering wheel is also heated for good measure.
The infotainment system remains 8.4 inches in size and features satellite navigation and extra controls for adjusting suspension damping. Not to mention the heated/cooled cup holders and an epic 19-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system that is almost as loud as the 300 SRT's exhaust.
Safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistant, radar cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and rear cross traffic alert in addition to a full suite of front, side and rear airbags.
Unlike some of its competitors, the 300 SRT doesn't really have a quiet mode. From when you start it to when you slam down the throttle, the car is always making a deep and somber noise from its exhaust. In the Track and Sport settings it gets louder again.
It can become a little trying at times. At 100km/h, for example, there is a drone through the cabin while the car plugs along at not much over 1000rpm.
But, it's all forgiven when you stomp on the throttle and the 300 SRT wags its tail before hooking up and slingshotting at phenomenal pace. The 6.4-litre V8 is incredibly tractable and has no issues pulling in a low or high gear — it's always ready to move.
Traction is surprisingly good, even in the wet where it is predictable and consistent — mainly thanks to the limited-slip differential. Off the line, drivers can activate an adjustable launch control mode (available in both models) that allows the driver to stall the vehicle up to a predetermined rpm and then drop the hammer.
An onboard trip computer features acceleration and lap timers, along with a g-meter to make it even more fun. While it was wet both on the day we attended the launch and when we had the car after the launch, it was still remarkably quick despite the damp road surface.
It's not hard to feel the vehicle's weight through corners, given its near 2000kg kerb weight. But, it manages to remain fairly flat and composed even when provoked mid corner. Likewise the steering offers plenty of feedback and the extra weight helps it feel more engaging during cornering.
The brakes are simply sensational. After a couple of 0-200km/h runs at the airstrip, they still managed to pull the big 300 SRT up with no dramas. Brake pedal feel is excellent and there's no doubt they would withstand a battering on the race track.
Ride quality over uneven surfaces in the 300 SRT is excellent. The street mode polishes off any bumps in the road, with the Track mode offering jarring and firm responses in comparison. The 300 SRT Core on the other hand is a little too firm and can crash over some road surfaces.
The only predictable chink in the 300 SRT's armour is its fuel use. The claimed fuel consumption figure is 13L/100km, but we found ourselves averaging over 22L/100km while we had the car on test. Mind you, we were often guilty of overusing the throttle with the windows down.
With the 300 SRT Core more powerful and less expensive than the HSV Clubsport, it's not hard to see why over one in every three Chrysler 300 models sold to date have been SRT variants.
This latest iteration simply perfects a formula that many buyers in Australia are still after. If you're in the market for a blisteringly quick and incredible sounding sports sedan that won't break the budget, look no further.