As much as we’ve loved how Chrysler’s SRT group has increased the refinement and sophistication in models like the Dodge Charger SRT8, Challenger SRT8, Chrysler 300C SRT8, and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 (or SRT, as it’s now known for 2014), doing so is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows these cars to further compete against esteemed foreign sport sedans (and be taken seriously). On the flip side, those amendments significantly increase cost. You can dial up the sticker price to retain profit margins, but also run the risk of alienating a sizable bunch of loyalists who’re on a budget.
What to do? For the past several years, SRT worked around this hurdle with an array of slightly less-expensive versions of SRT models, like the Charger Super Bee and Challenger Yellow Jacket. For 2013, the Charger SRT8 Super Bee returns, and is joined by two additional budget-conscious muscle bruisers: the Challenger SRT8 Core and Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core.
2013 Charger SRT8 Super Bee
The SRT8 Super Bee model was revived for the 2012 model year, and it returns again for the 2013 model year with a few cosmetic – not mechanical – amendments for the new year.
Let’s start with paint. In 2012, one could order a SRT8 Super Bee in any color desired, so long as it was -- of course – black or yellow. That’s not the case any longer, as you’ll be able to order the car in Hemi Orange pearl coat, Plum Crazy pearl, Bright White, Pitch Black, and TorRed (interestingly, the retina-searing Stinger Yellow appears to no longer be available). Other exterior revisions, including the black hood stripes, wrap-around decklid stripe with Super Bee logos, blacked-out grille with vintage Super Bee emblem, and 20-inch wheels with black accents are carried over for 2013.
Mechanicals also continue into 2013 with little to no change, meaning power still comes from Chrysler’s 6.4-liter Hemi V-8. As such, Charger SRT8 Super Bees offer up 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, and a five-speed automatic sends that power to the rear wheels. We haven’t received confirmation from Chrysler quite yet, but suspect the standard Charger SRT8’s adjustable Bilstein dampers are nixed to cut costs. Likewise, the SRT8's Nappa leather seating surfaces are replaced with cloth fabric, complete with striping and Super Bee logos. It's much lke the fabric used last year, but without the audacious yellow striping. Last year's Super Bee was relegated to a small, 4.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but the 2013 car shown in Chicago is fitted with a large 8.4-inch unit -- we're awaiting word on if it's standard or an optional extra.
We do, however, know that the SRT8 Super Bee will once again be less expensive than a full-bore Charger SRT8. Pricing starts at $42,990, including $995 in destination fees. For comparison, a 2013 Charger SRT8 starts at $46,990 meaning the Super Bee package saves buyers $4000 while allowing them to relive their vintage Mopar flashbacks to the tune of a rip-snortin’ Hemi.
2013 Challenger SRT8 Core
SRT tried applying the Super Bee treatment to the 2012 Challenger SRT8, resulting in the SRT8 Yellow Jacket. The new 2013 Challenger SRT8 Core follows essentially the same recipe, but with a few new twists.
Let’s start with looks. SRT8 Core models gain all sorts of blacked-out trim, including a black grille, rear spoiler, “392” logos for the front fenders, and Brembo brake calipers. Black is even offered as an exterior paint color, but buyers can also dip into Mopar nostalgia and order the aforementioned Hemi Orange and Plum Crazy, which are exclusive to the Challenger Core trim. With the exception of Phantom Black tri-coat pearl and Redline pearl, all other Challenger SRT8 colors are also available on SRT8 Core models.
Power again comes from the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8, and should be mated with either a six-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. We’re awaiting more extensive detail on the car, but we suspect that, much like the Challenger Super Bee, the adaptive Bilstein dampers have been nixed in lieu of less expensive parts.
Likewise, you won’t find leather-trimmed seating surfaces inside. Instead, front and rear seats are trimmed in the same “Ballistic” cloth used in base-grade 2013 SRT Viper coupes, and accented with slate gray cloth for bolsters and door panel inserts.
These careful deletions result in a Challenger SRT8 that’s just as powerful as the normal model, but quite a bit less expensive. SRT8 Core cars start at $39,990, including destination. That’s a whopping $5780 less than a normal 2013 Challenger SRT8, and likely enough to make the Challenger SRT8 Core the least-expensive SRT8 model presently on the market.
2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core
But wait, there’s more. Chrysler’s SRT-tuned 300 sedan also gains a lower-cost Core model for the 2013 model year. Cosmetic changes largely echo those of Challenger SRT8 Core. 20-inch wheels with black pockets are standard, as are “6.4L” fender emblems (is Chrysler above Dodge’s practice of counting in cubic inches?) and black Brembo brake calipers. Inside, leather seats are replaced with the same Ballistic fabric found on the Challenger SRT8 Core, although the interior is still accented with matte carbon and piano black trim pieces on the instrument panel, door bezels, and center console.
Ditching some of the 300 SRT8's luxuries helps shed a boatload of money from the window sticker. Chrysler says 300 SRT8 Core models should start at $44,990, including destination, which is $5000 below a standard 2013 300 SRT8.
We’d heard some scuttlebutt that a de-contented 300 SRT8 like this was being investigated for export markets, but we hope to uncover SRT’s marketing plans later today when we view the cars in person. For now, expect them to roll into Dodge and Chrysler showrooms in North America by the summer of 2013.