2010 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Review
If the economic downfall of 2008 had happened just a few years earlier, the Chrysler 300C SRT8 probably wouldn’t exist. Think about it: when gasoline was tipping at 1.20/L and people were doing everything possible to get out of their fuel-sucking SUVs and into smaller, more efficient vehicles, a 425-horsepower flagship sedan with a free-breathing 6.1-litre Hemi V8 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But then again, did it ever?
The 300C SRT8 is the product of a pre-castrated Chrysler. This was a time of Viper-powered Rams, Hemi-powered Jeeps and SRT-badged Neons. “You want it, you got it.” Chrysler wanted the 300C SRT8 to start a new trend of muscle sedans – a land where quarter-mile times reigned supreme, and booming exhaust notes were all that mattered. This trend never really caught on (save the Cadillac CTS-V, which has been honed to be one hell of a machine), and at the end of the day, Chrysler was left with a big, heavy, powerful sedan that didn’t offer much in the way of refinement and carried a near-$50,000 price tag.
But despite its flaws we still think of the 300C SRT8 as a guilty pleasure. It has all the ingredients of an American muscle car wrapped in a four-door, luxury package. If we’re totally honest, there’s still something about the SRT8 that gets us all giddy when one comes through the garage.
First shown in concept form at the 2003 New York Auto Show, the 300 really drove home the retro-inspired styling language that Chrysler infused into most of its products in the early 2000s. And to this day, we’re still fans of the 300’s design, particularly in SRT guise. All perimeter surfaces of the car are flat, and with the lowered stance and bigger wheels, it’s simply striking, standing in stark contrast to the swoopy, fluid designs that have come to light in recent years. Yes, the 300’s look is aging, and a new car is in the works for the 2012 model year, but we’d never use terms like “ugly” or “weird” to describe its appearance, and it still stands out in a good way.
The high beltline, narrow greenhouse, minimal front overhang and pronounced wheel arches on the 300C SRT8 go a long way towards hinting at the model’s performance potential. In fact, for many years, a special SRT Design trim level was offered on the 300, which added the more aggressive front fascia (revised grille and lower lip spoiler), 20-inch Alcoa forged alloy wheels and slightly lowered ride height to models equipped with the less powerful (and less awesome) 5.7-litre V8. The SRT8 trim is the only thing that keeps the 300C’s design in the front of our minds, especially since lesser V6 models tend to look lanky and somewhat disproportionate.