2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8: Muscling Up in Luxury
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Launched in 2004 as a new take on Chrysler’s legendary 300 “Letter Series” of cars from the 1950s and ’60s, the 300 was built as a high-end sedan, with the SRT8 version topping it off with high performance. SRT is Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology group that began as “Team Viper” with high performance as its focus. When applied to vehicles powered by Hemi V-8 engines, the trim suffix becomes SRT8. Tying that together, Chrysler’s 2012 300C SRT8 is a true luxury sedan with power and performance at the top of the American Musclecar list.
Paying homage to the 1955 Chrysler 300, the 2012 SRT8 version recalls the original’s simple, strong lines, engineering advancements, high levels of luxury and outstanding performance with the first modern American V-8 engine to produce 300 horsepower. The Chrysler C-300 won on both the road course and the “flying mile” at Daytona in 1955 and won again the following year as the “letter cars” became known as the “Beautiful Brutes.”
This year’s model is the second-generation (second incarnation) 300C SRT8 and is assembled in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. This newest version received exterior and interior modifications and upgrades. Outside, the 300C has revised its body, and SRT8 got even more upstyling. The 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 sits a half-inch lower than non-SRT models, was crafted with new side sill cladding and a more aggressive and sporty appearance accented by a dark horizontally slotted (honeycombesque) grille and seven-spoke, 20-inch aluminum wheels. This assertive demeanor is paid off with a distinctive front fascia lowered from the previous model, slim, functional rear spoiler, lower rear fascia with chrome accent bar, dual exhaust tips and a modified SRT8 badge with black accent.
Additionally, 300C smoothes out the journey on a sportier suspension and gets its stopping ability by way of a large Brembo brake package.
Classily measuring out at 198.6 inches long, 65 inches high and 58.5 inches high on a 120.2-inch wheelbase and weighing in at a proud and confident 4385 lbs., the 300C SRT8 is decked out with a more raked windshield, thinner roof pillars, bi-xenon HID projector headlights, LED daytime running strips within the headlights, modified tail lights with LED, and an updated version of the Chrysler brand's winged emblem, which dropped the blue ribbon center dating back to 1930s.
But the thing that really brings the SRT8 performance mission into play is enormous power for a luxury car.
Mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, the 2012 300C SRT 8 is propelled by the new 6.4-liter HEMI® V-8 that delivers 470 horsepower and 470 lbs.-ft. of torque, an increase of 45 horsepower and 50 lbs.-ft. over the 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 it replaces. The embarrassment of riches pays off on the line and in passing situations.
Its throaty exhaust note lets everyone know there is American muscle under hood, and track times bear that out, with test runs of a blazing 4.4 seconds from zero to 60mph and a sub-13-second quarter-mile (12.8).
On the road, the 300C SRT8 never hesitates, and sticks well through corners. On inside twists and outside twists some minor body roll is exhibited, and if you stomp on it in a turn you can get some understeer, but acceleration is effortless and whatever you get into, you can get out of. And if you need braking the big Brembos will stop you efficiently.
EPA rated at 25mpg on the highway and 16mpg in the city, our tests showed why you pay a “gas guzzler tax” on purchase, as we averaged 15.3mpg overall.
In the cabin, the driving experience is one of quietness and comfort. With seating for five, front leg room is 41.8 inches with 40.1 in the second row; head room is a confined 38.6 inches with 37.9 in row two and shoulder room is 59.5 inches in front and 57.7 inches in the rear seats. There is no shortage of pampering inside, starting with a leather-wrapped, heated, SRT-exclusive steering wheel with audio and electronic vehicle information center controls. Also standard is real carbon fiber interior trim pieces integrated into the instrument panel, door spears and shifter bezel. Racing-style brake and gas pedal pads are also standard as are climate control, an 8.4-inch color touchscreen display, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, Uconnect Touch with CD/DVD/MP3 and navigation, and more than 70 advanced safety and security features, including standard Keyless Enter-N-Go and electronic stability control with segment-exclusive Ready Alert Braking and Rain Brake Support and a full complement of air bags including seat-mounted and curtain side airbags.
The base 300C starts at $38.170. AWD goes $40,320 with a 5.7-liter 363 hp engine. The SRT8 starts at $50,165, plus destination charges of $735. The rich-looking Bright White Clear Coat paint is included. The Safety Tec package for $1965 adds adaptive cruise control, blind spot and cross path detection, forward collision warning and rear fog lamps. The 19 Premium Speaker group for $1995 adds 19 premium speakers with subwoofer, 900-watt amplifier and surround-sound system from Harman Kardon. The Gas Guzzler tax is $1000 and the model as tested, with discounts, stickered for $52,985.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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