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AMR Preview: Chrysler 300C SRT-8
    Managing Editor

Is "Badder-Ass" A Word?
So you love the styling of the new Chrysler 300, its retro cues, chiseled proportions and chopped roof are spot on for what you want in a car. However, you're feeling that the 5.7L Hemi - at 340 hp - is just a bit underpowered. What, oh what, shall you ever do? As audacious and hypothetical as this situation sounds, Chrysler has an answer for it in the new 300C SRT-8, a bad-ass 425 hp bruiser.

The newest model out of Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division, the SRT-8 builds on the already sufficient Hemi-powered 300C by adding stiffer suspension tuning, 20-inch chrome wheels, special body work, larger brakes with Brembo calipers and of course, more power. Upping the displacement to 6.1L, increasing the compression ratio, adding higher lift cams and installing larger exhaust headers is just the start to what's been done to this engine. Thanks to these modifications, the SRT-8 pumps out a whopping 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. To put this into perspective, Chrysler's own Viper super car was producing only 25 more hp until 2003, and it had the advantage of two more cylinders and nearly two more liters of displacement. Either way you slice it, 425 hp is a lot for any car, especially a four-door sedan such as the 300. Unfortunately, with all the engine modifications, the SRT-8 lost the use of the multi-displacement system that made the regular 300C relatively green when cruising on the highway. As such, the SRT-8 is not expected to get great gas mileage and will probably fall prey to gas-guzzler tax. That said, if you're looking at this car, you probably aren't too concerned with all of that.

The interior receives a modest treatment, with new backgrounds for the instrument panels and chrome accents throughout. The 300's interior was already a model of excellent fit and finish and upscale textures, so not much really needed to change. However, Chrysler also added suede inserts to the stock 300C seats in order to further differentiate the SRT-8 from its sibling. These upgrades are modest at best though, and your average person would be hard pressed to see much difference between the low-sugar 300C and SRT-8 from the inside. However, to me at least, this car is all about modesty. It doesn't need to scream for attention, but it gets it anyway, whether it's just standing still or smoking a ubiquitous import rocket at the local stoplight while asking for some Grey Poupon. It's simply the kind of car you don't expect to be able to go toe to toe with a Corvette in a straight line. It's a sleeper of the first order, and I love it for that quality.

Final Review
The only complaint I have about this car is the same one I have for the 300C. Why, oh why, did Chrysler not even entertain the possibility of a manual transmission? While I understand that the majority of buyers in America purchase automatics, one would think Chrysler would stop dancing around Cadillac's CTS-V (Which offers manual transmissions) and go straight for the kill. Either way, the big shocker about the SRT-8 is the other thing it lacks: an outrageous price tag. The SRT-8 comes pretty much loaded for $39,995. That's about half the price of the next BMW M5 and you'd only be coming up 75 horses short, while still managing 0-60 times in the neighborhood of 4.9 seconds. With the SRT-8, Chrysler continues its amazing turnaround and improves upon an already superb domestic offering that could easily be considered one of the most significant cars of this past year.


Nothing Better Stand In Its Way


I love this car. Every time I see one, I think that it will be my next car. AWD, amazing looks, great performance, etc, etc. The SRT-8 just makes it that much better, and the price is great. I love the look of the SRT-8, too. I was worried that it might get overwrought with chrome or other bolt-on pieces, but they kept it simple. If the SRT folks did too much to make the car standout, they would ruin the brute force and intimidation factor of this car. It exudes power from every angle even in non-Hemi form. A small trunk lip, front spoiler, and some ground effects more than do the trick, but the chrome dubs and SRT-8 badge seal the deal. Perhaps Chrysler could have looked to a mesh grille like Caddy did with the CTS-V to make the car stand out even more by being less showy than the regular model, but maybe they thought they'd be seen as following Cadillac.

Tim, I think I know why you can't row your own boat here. Chrysler doesn't have a strong enough manual for this thing. There's no manual in the Crossfire SRT-6 because they had nothing that could handle the power (neither does Mercedes with the AMG version of pretty much any of its cars, mind you). Chrysler does not sell a Hemi anywhere in their lineup with a manual, and it is simply because of this fact. If the 5.7L Hemi has no tranny in the DC parts bin that can handle it, then surely its 6.1L big brother can't be matched to one, either. Still, a boy can dream, can't he?