2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 - First Drive
Built for Comfort. And Speed.
If there's one thing that goes well with a Chrysler 300, it's a big engine. In 2012 300 SRT8 guise, this is the biggest it gets (so far). Now in its second generation, the 300 makes a strong case for itself as a domestic executive sedan. This SRT model, which stands for Street and Racing Technology, takes the car to an area more sporty than any previous iteration has ever been.
Not that the gliding ride has been sacrificed in the name of boy-racer-dom. But, all it takes is a couple of touches on the center console's screen to change the new adjustable suspension from comfort mode to sport. At this point, the car takes on a stance that seems just a tad more aggressive, less willing to lean around corners. There's no getting around the fact that this is not a light car at 4,365 pounds curb weight, but the added body control goes a long way in mitigating this mass, to make it feel more athletic.
This brings the 6.4-liter V8 engine's 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque more into focus, pushing the car from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds, and a top speed of 175 mph. Listen carefully and it's just possible to discern the exhaust noise encroaching upon the cabin's usual tranquility. The rushing sensation is understated unless you look at the speedometer.
The car's high-adrenaline credentials are advertised outwardly by 20-inch alloy wheels, body kit and a carefully crafted small rear spoiler on the trunk lid. Inside, there's some carbon fiber trim and seats designed to hold their occupants when cornering more spiritedly. There's also some classy stitched leather over the dashboard.
It takes $47,995 (including $825 destination) to get into the supportive sports seats of this model. If any buyer does feel like taking it for a few fast track laps, they will be pleased that a day of high-performance driving instruction is included in the price. Should they want to break the silence of the cabin in a big way, a 19-speaker, 900-watt Harmon Kardon surround-sound audio system is an option for $1,995.
Of the four 2012 SRT models, which include the Dodge Charger, Challenger and Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 300 gets the prize for most pleasing interior, but the Jeep comes close. The SRT badge has been used before, but now it seems the Chrysler group has realized this is a company asset that can be pushed to a greater degree. The 300 SRT8 actually seems to be the least extreme of the four, but for someone who wants the most powerful 300 out there, this will fit the bill just fine.