2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8 Road Test Review

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Fans of high-performance driving are no doubt well aware of the activities of the SRT group within the Chrysler corporation. Responsible for such iconic creations as Viper and Prowler, the SRT group, until now, has been merely an organization within the overall Chrysler corporate structure.

Starting with the 2012 model year, SRT becomes a brand unto itself, complete with a chief executive officer in the person of Ralph Gilles (pronounced Jeels), who is also Chrysler's vice-president of design. After a brief stint as president of Dodge, Gilles has been handed the reigns of the newly minted Chrysler performance division.

To mark the introduction of the brand, Gilles is letting four white-hot models off the chain simultaneously to scald the streets. While we've seen all four of these models before, for 2012 they've been reinvigorated with more performance-thanks to a new 6.4-litre HEMI V8 engine, methodically crafted suspension systems and a raft of purpose-specified comfort, convenience and infotainment systems.

Fresh off of a redesign for the 2011 model year, for 2012 Chrysler is adding the ultra performance version of its halo luxury sedan. In keeping with the car's overall character, the SRT enhancements, while amplifying the 300's performance potential significantly, enhance the luxury quotient of the big sedan as well. After all, exceptional performance is just as much of a luxury as an electrically operated multi-function heated and cooled seat.

The roots of this car go all the way back to the highly vaunted Chrysler "letter cars" of the 1950s and 60s. In 1955, Chrysler's C-300 swept away the competition at Daytona Beach. Chrysler's 300B did the same in '56. Additionally, Chrysler 300s also dominated NASCAR in '55 and '56, giving credence to the concept of ultra-fast luxury cars.

An entire series of letter cars emanated from Chrysler after that, culminating in the 300 SRT8 we have today. Boasting 470 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs of torque, the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 is one of the two hottest full-size American sedans available today (Dodge's Charger SRT8 is the other one). Delivering a unique blend of performance and luxury, the 300 SRT8 will ferry your family of four anywhere you need to go, while quietly harboring the ability to absolutely rip the asphalt off of your favourite canyon road.

Romping on it relentlessly, with the five-speed automatic shifting for itself (in its sport mode), we saw 100km/h in about five seconds, quarter miles in just over 12, and experienced an urgency of acceleration conclusively demonstrating the viability of Chrysler's claim of a 282 km/h (175 mph) top.

What is truly remarkable is the manner in which the 300 SRT8 so competently contains opulence and havoc within the same vessel. If you'd like, you can literally sit in place while the 300's rear wheels spin their tires' treads away into big fat cumulus clouds of white smoke. Throw it into a corner and the 300 SRT8 grips the pavement so mightily the asphalt is very likely to give away before the tires do.

And while you'd expect it to ride as roughly as a racing car crossing a set of railroad tracks, quite the opposite is true; thanks to the adaptive damping suspension system Chrysler's engineers have fitted to the car. Providing both a smooth ride and amazing grip, this suspension system deserves a spot in the automotive hall of fame.

Meanwhile, every luxury feature Chrysler offers for its flagship sedan is present and accounted for. From the sophistication of its ice-blue illumination for the instruments, to the comfort garnered from the multi-adjustable heated and cooled sport seats, to the touch-sensitive multifunction screen for its secondary functions, (not to mention an audio system rivaling the 6.4-litre HEMI for power), the 300 SRT8 impresses at every instance.

Speaking of that touch sensitive monitor, in can register and record every performance parameter imaginable. Want to know your acceleration times, or how many Gs you pulled on acceleration, braking and cornering? All can be duly recorded and displayed by the unit.

The way the 300 SRT8 deftly combines high performance with both palatial luxury and cutting edge technology is truly a glorious thing to behold.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Chrysler, 2012, 300C SRT8, $50,000 - $74,999,

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