When we tested the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core in 2013, we liked its simplistic and lunatic approach to performance. Unashamedly big in style and attitude, the SRT8 is stupendously powerful and roars so ferociously it rattles windows and sends pets yapping around the neighbourhood.
For 2015, this big brash American was in for a nip and tuck. And we were as keen as ever to try it out again.
Rivalling the Aussie-built Holden Commodore SSV and Ford Falcon XR8, the updated Chrysler 300 SRT has dropped the ‘8’ from its nameplate, but rest assured it is still V8-powered.
Positioned just below the Luxury Car Tax threshold at $59,000 plus on-roads, the SRT Core offers all the essentials for those purely after performance, while the flagship SRT packs all the bells and whistles for $69,000 plus on-roads.
Both models are $3,000 dearer than before but still pack a great deal of fire power for the money.
Ruining the rear tyres is an improved 6.4-litre HEMI V8 which now pushes out 350kW and 637Nm, an increase of 3kW and 6Nm over the pre-update engine. Further back from the mill, the old five-speed automatic is gone and in its place a new eight-speed self-shifter sourced from ZF.
The big atmospheric V8 is still one of the most powerful in the business, capable of hauling the 2-tonne sports sedan from 0 to 100km/h in a blistering 4.5 seconds (tested) using the in-built launch control system. Turn the electronics off, find a long empty stretch of tarmac, and the SRT will happily tear it up in as much wheel spin (and smoke) as you want. Top it up with that thunderous roar from the V8, the SRT is really one heck of a car to drive flat out. It is immensely addictive to pin the right pedal to the floor just for this experience.
But there’s a lot more to its lunacy in a straight line, as the SRT actually takes on the twisty bits rather well when driven tidily. Point that gaping front grille where you want it to be and the SRT will obey with barely a hint of understeer, a testament to its almost endless amount of front end grip.
Apply more throttle and the back end will happily step out, before the ESP quickly, but subtly tidy things up.
The recalibrated electric power steering helps big time when zig zagging through tighter bends, as it now offers noticeably sharper response and crisper feedback.
In the upper-spec SRT, the standard Bilstein adaptive dampers offer even sharper dynamics. The quicker rebound rates mean the car is less prone to being unsettled by mid-corner bumps. Driver can choose from different driving modes including Track mode, which, apart from stiffening the dampers, also quickens gear shifts and allows the driver to hold a gear, even at the redline, when the paddle shifters are used.
Speaking of transmission, the new eight-speed auto is the biggest improvement to the SRT’s drivetrain, shuffling the grunt from the V8 much more effectively than the dated five-speeder. It works better with the launch control, keeping revs in the powerband for quicker and smoother acceleration. It also features lower cruising rpm top gear to save fuel during long-legged cruising.
As with the previous model, stopping performance is taken care of by Brembo high performance brakes – four-piston all around acting on 361mm front and 351mm rear slotted discs.
Chrysler has made improvement to brake cooling and fade performance, with new wind tunnel-tested cooling ducts that direct airflow to the brake rotors for strong and consistent stopping power.
Standard in the SRT is a system called Ready Alert Braking which anticipates when the driver quickly releases the accelerator pedal and may initiate an emergency brake stop, and is able to “pre-engage” the brakes in order to decrease the time required for full brake application.
Around town, while the SRT8 Core makes the mundane trip of going to the supermarket exhilarating, its constant exhaust drone can get a bit tiring after a while. Its ride is also on the firm side where most ruts and dimples made their presence felt. That said, it is by no means spine crushingly hard.
But the SRT’s biggest gripe perhaps, is its thirst for fuel. Even with cylinder deactivation (running on four cylinder in low load condition), the sports sedan will gulp close to 20L/100km in urban traffic! Fortunately consumption on freeway is less crazy at around 8.0L/100km.
Replacing the previous steel structure, the new aluminium axles and housing in the 2015 SRT help to reduce weight. Lightweight construction also sees the new SRT utilise high-strength materials and advanced manufacturing techniques to deliver the desired strength and rigidity. Good move, but the SRT is still one hulking beast, tipping the scale at 1,965kg.
Adopting the key design changes of the 2015 Chrysler 300, the new 300 SRT gains a redesigned fascia featuring a more sculptured front bumper and new grille. At the other end of the car, there’re new style LED tail lights and revised rear bumper. Adding to the “gangsta” appearance are wheels measuring 20 x 9-inch fitted as standard.
Inside, the SRT is as dramatic as its brash exterior. Everything is big – big seats, big steering wheel, big dashboard and big screen. There are now real carbon fibre trim pieces integrated into the revised instrument panel, door spears and shifter bezel. Also new are the “racing style” brake and accelerator pedals.
The already impressive 8.4-inch UConnect touchscreen has been polished with even better graphics and has no shortage of toys for you to play with or eye candies for you to show off to your mates. A full fledge “SRT Performance” page brings up everything from real time power/torque figures and g-forces to steering angle and drivetrain parameters. For the top-spec SRT model, the screen allows customisation of different drive modes for the sports suspension, steering wheel, transmission and throttle response.
Despite Chrysler’s effort to up the build quality of the SRT, overall fit and finish still leaves much to be desired and is no match with the Holden Commodore. The foot-operated park brake in particular, felt flimsy in our test car.
The 2015 Chrysler 300 SRT ticks all the right boxes when it comes to performance, features and style.
The mighty V8 offers enormous forward thrust, while the brilliant chassis serves up remarkable dynamics at the bends. It makes all the right noises, too. You just have to have deep enough pockets to cover for the frequent visits to the bowser.
|Price (Excl. on-roads):||$59,000 (SRT Core); $69,000 (SRT)|
As tested: $69,000 (SRT)
|Engine:||6.4-litre HEMI V8 petrol|
|350kW @ 6,150rpm, 637Nm @ 4,250rpm, rear-wheel drive|
|Combined Fuel Consumption:||Claimed: 13.0L/100km. Tested: 13.6L/100km|
|0-100km/h (seconds):||4.5 (tested)|
|Dimensions (mm):||Length: 5,089, Width: 1,902, Height: 1,478, Wheelbase: 3,052|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,965|
Competitor: Holden Commodore SSV Redline; Ford Falcon XR8