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Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core

 

There’s a fair bit of bling in the 300’s cabin, but that’s okay

Baseprice: $74,990.

Powertrainand performance: 6.4-litre petrol V8, 347kW/631Nm, 5-speedautomatic, rear-drive, Combined economy 13.0 litres per 100km.

Vitalstatistics: 5089mm long, 1478mm high, kerb weight2012kg, fuel tank 72 litres, 20-inch wheels.

Welike: Unashamedly American style, old-school grunt,value for money.

Wedon’t like: Wobbly in corners, five-speedautomatic, needs reversing camera.

Howit rates: 7/10

WHATDO I NEED TO KNOW?

The Chrysler 300 is quite international. Itwas born under the American maker’s association with Daimler and rides onunderpinnings borrowed from a previous-generation Mercedes-Benz E-class. But itsfuture lies under Fiat, which has owned 100 percent of Chrysler since Januarythis year.

International in origin, but all-Americanin character. Particularly the SRT8 model, which is a good old-fashioned musclecar, slotting a thunderous 6.4-litre V8 engine into a family-car package.

The SRT8 Core model tested here comes sanssome of the luxury equipment of the standard model, but slashes $13,000 fromthe price. That takes it head to head with driver-focused Aussie V8s like theHolden Commodore SS Redline and makes it something of a performance-carbargain.

WHAT’SIT LIKE TO DRIVE?

The Core lacks nothing powertrain-wisecompared with the regular SRT8: same monstrous V8 engine and same automatictransmission.

That’s not to say it lacks nothing, period.The SRT8 still labours along with a five-speed automatic, which is not a majorissue when there’s so much torque to play with. But in a world of performancecars with six, seven and eight-cog gearboxes, it is a bit crude and willoccasionally clunk from gear-to-gear.

The number of ratios does not hold back theSRT8’s performance. The gearbox seems to be calibrated for very abrupt takeoff:squeeze the throttle even slightly harder than usual from a standstill andyou’ll get a chirp of the rear tyres as the big Chrysler rockets down the road.

So the engine is magnificent and thetransmission is acceptable. The suspension is actually quite soft, which meansthe SRT8 Core serves up a surprisingly supple ride considering it rides onmonster 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Core does lack the dual-mode adaptivesuspension control of the standard SRT8. It’s been a long time since we’vedriven that car so it’s hard to say whether that would fix the Core’s lack ofbody control in bumpy corners. Suffice to say, it’s endlessly entertaining in astraight line but sometimes struggles in the corners.

Other cost-saving measures in the Coreinclude the deletion of adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert, forwardcollision warning and satellite navigation.

ISIT EASY TO LIVE WITH?

There’s a fair bit of bling in the 300’scabin, but that’s okay. The intricate switchgear and lurid instrumentation arenot out of place in this car and the quality of materials is quite impressive:plenty of soft-touch plastic and a level of fit and finish that’s superior torivals from Ford and Holden.

The Core loses leather upholstery, which isnot an issue: there’s more grip from the cloth trim, although the seats are notexactly sporting. Definitely built for larger frames.

You do miss out on the novelty of heatedand cooled cupholders (shame, but we’ll live) and the Core has a lower-qualityaudio system… but it’s still pretty good.

One serious omission from the Core is areversing camera. In a large car with a high waistline and limited rearvisibility, this is an essential safety item. Bring it back please.

SHOULDI BUY ONE?

The SRT8 Core is a flawed machine: a littlebit old-fashioned in some respects, with too much emphasis on tyre-smokingstarts and not enough on cornering prowess. Although that is the whole ethos ofthe American muscle car, isn’t it?

So the SRT8 Core is not as sophisticated asits Australian competition, but it’s hard not to love that brash style, therumble of a really big V8 and the chance to drive something plastered with‘Hemi’ badges.

If you like sheer bang for your buck you’llprobably like American muscle cars and you’ll surely like this.

EQUIPMENTCHECKLIST

Airconditioning: Dual climate

Audio: CD, iPod compatible

Automaticlights/wipers: Yes/no

Blindspot warning: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Cruisecontrol: Yes

Driver footrest: Yes

Gas dischargeheadlights: No

Head-updisplay: No

Heated/ventilatedseats: No

Keylessentry/start: Yes/Yes

Laneguidance: No

Leatherupholstery: No

Parkingradar: Front and rear

Powerboot or tailgate: No

Powerseat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes

Remoteaudio controls: Yes

Satellitenavigation: Yes

Seatheight adjustment: Yes

Self-parkingtechnology: No

Split/foldingrear seats: 60/40

Steering reach adjustment:Yes

Stop-start: No

Tripcomputer: Yes

Find a Chrysler 300 SRT8 HERE


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