Noise can be painful; think of a mosquito buzzing around your head at 3am, living next door to a highway and so on. There’s good noise; the happy gurgle of an infant, the pop of a champagne bottle. Then there’s the sound of a car engine and exhaust. Formula 1 has found out what happens when you mess with noise but thankfully there are still plenty of car makers that understand that the right noise can make a big difference. One of those is Chrysler; they’ve taken the heavy and dour 300C sedan, punted it over to their performance arm called SRT (Street and Racing Technology), they’ve sprinkled the get up and go dust and thrown it back into the garage with a 6.4 litre V8 and deep breathing exhaust. Peak mumbo is 347 kilowatts at 6100 revs. What’s more important is the mountain hauling torque; 631 metres of Mr Newton’s finest and a reasonable 4150 rpm is what’s needed to see that at its peak, with a huge percentage available from 1500. The noise comes courtesy of the drainpipe sized exhausts; hit the Start button on the dash (make sure you have the key fob on you, of course) and the air is rent asunder by the dragon’s rumble. The engine settles down into its measured beat after a few seconds, the thrum of the exhaust teaching Barry White what bass is all about.
Being based on the 300C sedan (and wagon), the SRT8 version starts from a heavy base model. The external shape is largely unchanged, looking, as it is, hewn from a solid piece of steel, with the test car coming in a midnight shade of black. It’s big, at over five metres long and 1.9 metres wide. There’s a restyled chin, 20 inch polished alloys rolling on more acres of rubber than a plantation, a subtle bootlid spoiler and a touch of chrome around the tail light plastics. There’s the C shaped LED running lights, the crosshatched and blacked out grille with the end result looking very sinister.
The interior is largely unchanged, with electric seats and heating switches front and rear, heated steering wheel, black leather, memory seating and a slightly modified touchscreen interface. There’s the addition of an SRT icon with info covering G force rating, oil pressure, lap time, kW and Nm, adjustable ride settings and more. The user interface is simply laid out, as it should be but the satnav screen is something akin to a primary colour kid’s cartoon when it shows the roads, however the 3D background is well shaded. Naturally, there’s the usual swag of safety bits with electronic aids and airbags, plus an archaic foot operated parking brake. Of a very minor concern was the Collision Avoidance alarm, it constantly picked up the same corner, not far from my house, as being an obstacle. Otherwise, no issues, bar a loose and somewhat ill fitted piece of faux carbon fibre surrounding the gear selector.
On the road, everywhere you go you’re followed by that intoxicating, enticing rumble. You ride on those magnificent 20 inch diameter alloys with 245/45 rubber and, unless you’ve switched the damper settings to Sport, you’ll endure jiggling every inch of your journey. Sport and Track firm up the ride without losing just enough compliance to smooth out most minor niggles and change the gear change points on the five speed auto. Yes, I said five speed. This, from the same family that has just launched the new Jeep range with a NINE ratio transmission. There were times when the feeling was of a computer interrupting power delivery, with the car seeming to edge forward then back when idling along on the freeway. What the car doesn’t feel is heavy. The standard 300C has a weight about it; its ride, handling, steering feel leaden but the SRT is lighter in how it feels. Steering is more a assisted sense(hydraulic too, not electric); response, despite the lack of a ratio or two, is almost immediate; the three mode suspension sharpens the ride to a more acceptable level. At a dead weight of 2000 kilos, part of the reason it feels lighter than the standard can be attributed to the lurking monster under the acre of bonnet. Thrown into turns it’s not entirely nimble but having so much rubber on the road provides a velcro grip and understeer is controllable. Rolling acceleration is stupendous, going from legal to jail in just a couple of seconds.
Then there’s the combination of a five speed auto and a throaty 6.4L V8. It drinks like a man at a water tap after two days in the desert. Chrysler’s own figures quote around 13L per 100 kilometres but having a 72 litre capacity tank with such a powerplant, that prefers Premium, is akin to giving a walnut to a squirrel and telling it to live for a week off that.
With its real closest competitors being the two local offerings, from Ford and Holden/HSV, the 300C SRT measures up well and considering its price range, in the mid $60K bracket, offers more fun for the buck than others higher up the price ladder. But it will be truly harder to beat that unbelievable soundtrack from the exhaust.
Go to: http://www.chrysler.com.au/srt300 for more information.