If it wasn’t for the recent banquet of homegrown muscle, you probably would’ve heard more about the Chrysler 300 SRT in these pages.
Particularly since late last year Daimler HQ swapped its tired five-speed auto for a trick ZF eight-speed, and upgraded its former, tad-blunt steering – two changes which have made the SRT a very solid alternative to something like a HSV Clubsport R8 LSA.
This much was revealed in our January 2016 issue, the refreshed 300 SRT losing a fight to the R8 LSA, but it was much closer than we were expecting. So much so, we thought it high time we got to know the 300 SRT a little better, and so this month we welcome AEZ-878 to MOTOR HQ for an extended stay.
It was an especially easy decision; we would warmly welcome anything with a 6.4-litre V8 married to a mechanical limited-slip diff and rear axle. Particularly if it’s on 245-section rear tyres, like it’s 2002. But mostly because the 300 SRT is, on paper, one seriously keen offer.
That atmo, pushrod Hemi V8 serves up 350kW and 637Nm and makes the rudest noise in the process (more on that), good for 0-100km/h in a launch control-assisted 4.49sec (our number). On the same day it did a 12.6sec quarter at 180.54km/h, quicker by a blink than its Clubsport combatant.
And it’s loaded to the hilt with goodies: radar cruise control, adaptive dampers, blind spot monitoring, auto-emergency braking, lane-keep assist, 19-speaker stereo, 20-inch forged wheels, rich TFT instrument display… it’s no wonder it weighs 1965kg.
Previously this was all yours for a fairly sizzling $69,000 but since the dollar’s turned sour in Chrysler’s favour the price has leapt to $75K – still mighty sharp when the cheapest ticket to Clubsport town is $80,990 these days, for a manual.
In the metal the 300 SRT looks tougher than the pictures, a great big slab of American attitude. Attention-seekers might initially be thrown off by its subtlety but we’ve been surprised how many heads it turns.
Particularly if the throttle’s wide open. Oh, the sweet, sweet racket it makes. Of all the modern V8s I’ve driven I’ve no hesitation putting this car in my top three for noise. In the upper revs, the 300 SRT has an induction snarl like a junior V8 Supercar. On hard upchanges there’s a crisp exhaust blat, and in the wet your throttle application might be very ambitious indeed just to hear an angry spike of revs as the rear treads struggle for grip. Satisfying? You bet.
Meanwhile the new, paddle-shift auto shades anything you’d find in a V8 Falcon, or Commodore, but it’s not perfect, sometimes a little lurch-y on downchanges.
The jury might be a bit out on its handling for now but overall, it’s an easy car to like – the noise, the grunt, the ESP acting like an irresponsible parent letting you play around in the wet even in normal mode. In general the 300 SRT does a lot of things right. Gripes?
The fuel economy is going to send MOTOR broke and the interior is a little low rent in places, but perhaps most tellingly, we do wonder how much we’d want to do with the 300 SRT if it had a twin-turbo V6. But it doesn’t. So for now, join us in welcoming the 300 SRT.
LIKED: Not much can beat a rear-drive V8 with a limited slip diff and ‘lenient’ ESP calibration.
DISLIKED: Bit of a plus-sized model this one.
FAVOURITE MOMENT: Full-noise upshifts with the steering paddles. So crisp, the noise so good.
Fuel This Month: 16.6L/100km
Distance This Month: 309.3km
Want to see more of our Chrysler 300 SRT long-termer?