First Look: 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

Chrysler says electronic adaptive shifting control makes the transmission more responsive while also reducing harshness. Although many were expecting Chrysler's upcoming eight-speed automatic to make a debut for the 2012 model year 300, it's looking like we're still going to have to wait a little while longer.

Helping underpin the 300 SRT8 is Chrysler's new Adaptive Damping Suspension (ADS) system, which helps the SRT8 adapt to various driving conditions, taking into account vehicle speed, steering angle and speed, braking force, and lateral and vertical forces. The system takes that data and automatically adjusts the suspension for the best performance and comfort. The aforementioned Sport also helps further firm up the suspension when the canyon roads come a-calling.

Bringing the SRT8's considerable mass to a halt requires 14.2-inch discs in front and 13.8-inchers at the rear. The discs are vented and slotted at all four corners, and clamped down by four-piston Brembo calipers. To help keep the brakes cool, the SRT8's underbody belly pan was designed with built-in brake ducts.

To remind drivers they're in the Alpha Dog of the 300 lineup, the SRT logo adorns nearly every surface. On top of that, genuine carbon-fiber trim pieces can be found throughout the cabin. The SRT8-exclusive steering wheel is designed to allow easy access to the paddle shifters as well as the Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) controls located on the wheel's spokes. The EVIC system's centerpiece is an 8.4-inch touch-screen display, which can give the driver performance information like power output and steering angle and even measure the car's zero-to-60 times or lateral g-forces.

An available 900-watt, 19-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system is new to the SRT8 for 2012, with a 276-watt, 6-speaker Alpine system as standard. Chrysler's Unconnect Touch 8.4N infotainment system utilizes the same 8.4-inch touch screen as the EVIC system, providing GPS navigation by Garmin, real-time weather and traffic updates with Sirius Travel Link and Sirius Traffic ,and integrated Bluetooth connectivity. For Uconnect's entertainment portion, the system includes a USB port with iPod support, MP3 and WMA playback capabilities, and Sirius satellite radio. Drivers can interface with the system either by using the touch screen or with voice commands.

As its performance-themed halo machine, the 300 SRT8 is an important car for Chrysler, which has aggressively revamped much of its lineup over the past year. So far, the direction the company has taken under its new management has produced some impressive results. We'll see just how impressive soon enough when we get behind the wheel of the 2012 300 SRT8 and stomp on that right pedal.

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I do NOT understand Chrysler putting out 2012 models w/o a 6-spd auto. Didn't they keep anything from Mercedes? They alos need to upgrade the Brembo's to six-piston in front and indulge in some dieting! Wait til 2013!

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