Sure, we like the all-new Chrysler 300 plenty. It's the best car of the newly updated stable of Chrysler Group offerings, and it has improved markedly over its predecessor. But that's not the version of the car that gets the blood boiling and the rubber burning. The new 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 is, and it's coming soon to a Chrysler dealer near you after its debut at the 2011 New York auto show.
For starters, the exterior of the new 300 SRT8 has been sculpted to match its high-performance character. The front end retains Chrysler's newly reshaed wing badge, but the SRT8 model gets a unique front valance and a blacked-out mesh grille.
The SRT8 sits a half-inch lower than the standard 300 on 20-inch alloy wheels, lending it a more imposing stance. Out back, there's a new chrome-accented lower fascia and dual 4-inch-diameter exhaust pipes. The available Black Chrome package adds black chrome grille surrounds, rear valance, and exclusive black chrome wheels.
Chrysler's SRT team didn't skimp on power, endowing the SRT8 with 465 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque from its 6.4-liter Hemi V-8--an improvement of 40 horsepower and 45 pound-feet over the previous 300 SRT8's 6.1-liter unit. With the help of an active intake manifold and high-lift camshaft, the new engine produces more torque at lower rpm, and cam phasing optimizes power at higher rpms. Chrysler estimates the 300 SRT8 can click off 0-60 mph in the high four-second range and will top out at 175 mph.
The Hemi's Fuel Saver variable displacement system returns for 2012, delivering a claimed 25-percent increase in fuel economy when cruising along in four-cylinder mode. This gain is attributed to a new active valve exhaust system, which allows the engine to make use of a wider rpm range when running on half its cylinders. This system also lets exhaust gases bypass the middle and rear mufflers, giving the SRT8 a fuller tone at wide open throttle.
One thing we wished the SRT guys would have been able to update is the transmission. The one and only unit available is a five-speed automatic with Auto Stick manual control built into the center console gear selector as well as paddle shifters on the steering wheel. There are two pre-set transmission modes, Auto for around town loping, and Sport, which shifts at higher rpms when more spirited driving is on the agenda.