The SRT models from Jeep and Chrysler have always intrigued me. The Jeep Grand Cherokee for example, is a formidable contender for value 4×4 of the market, especially if straight line grunt is your priority. While Europeans seem to be doing everything in their power to reduce the amount of cylinders in their cars, without reducing power, the Americans are still delivering power plants reminiscent of the iconic muscle car days. So, have Chrysler missed the mark, or is the Hemi power plant, and a glorious V8 soundtrack enough to get the customer across the line? We spent a week with the Chrysler 300 SRT Core to judge for ourselves.
The new Chrysler 300 sees the ‘C’ dropped from the badge, and a needed exterior facelift. The car is still distinctively 300C, possessing that same on road presence, and brutish demeanour, but is more boasts angular new lines, new suspension and an eight speed gearbox. The SRT comes in two variations, the 300 SRT Core and the 300 SRT. Both feature the same 6.4L naturally aspirated V8 producing 350kW, but offer different trim and features with the Core starting at $59,000 and the SRT at $69,000.
The 300 SRT Core hunkers down on large 20inch wheels but misses out on the the adjustable suspension standard in the SRT. Savings on its top spec brethren come from cloth seats featuring the embroidered SRT logo, and plastic trim, whereas the SRT gets an Alcantara and leather combo. The UConnect System works seamlessly for connecting devices and navigating DAB and AM/FM radio with a responsive 8.4inch touch screen. I did however, find the the sound output when connected via Bluetooth, a tad mediocre. The instrument cluster is quite small and the park brake is very fiddly, I had to used my foot to lift it past a certain point to be able to engage it again. I did however enjoy registering performance metrics with the onboard acceleration and lap timer (pictured below). Furthermore, I found that the car’s weight (just shy of the 2 tonnes) needed to be considered in many day to day driving situations, such as manoeuvring over speed humps, and doing 3 point turns in random driveways. The turning circle is also huge, which makes piloting it in and out of tight carparks, parallel parks and through city streets, a bit of a chore.
Whilst I had a few qualms, I can’t deny that the new SRT oozes attitude. Whilst that might be a rather thuggish attitude, akin to that of Kimbo Slice (which doesn’t necessarily appeal to my own tastes), I do appreciate it for having its own unique character. Fire up the engine and it sounds like you’ve got a Cigarette boat parked in your drive way, chugging away like a marinised V8. The exhaust note is prevalent in the Core’s normal drive mode, but it really steps up a notch once the car’s Sport mode is initiated, and even more when you’re controlling the 8 speed gearbox from the paddles on the steering wheel. Engage the SRT button on the dash and the driver can choose from Street, Sport and Track settings which add extra control over exhaust note, shift speeds and steering weight.
Once you’ve worked out the sweet spot between gear and rev selection, listening to the V8 howl is an absolute treat, delivering consistent ear to ear smiles. It’s a ferocious bark, an orchestra of visceral sounds paired with devastating acceleration, made more enjoyable with the launch control feature. It is insanely addictive, impressively tractable and curtailed easily with a quality Brembo brake setup. The acceleration and lap timers on the dash provide for some additional entertainment, as does the speed in which the tank empties. Yes even despite the Eco mode deactivating 4 cylinders it’s a thirsty beast, with no improvement on 13.0 litres per 100km claimed consumption from its predecessor.
The Chrysler 300 SRT Core, cuts down to the very core of what defines a value for money sports sedan. Sure it has a few niggles, but if you can look past them and appreciate the SRT for what it is – a stripped back, no bullshit, weapon, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best bang for your buck sports sedans on the road. Just don’t expect to park it in Surry Hills.