First DriveThe new Chrysler 300C is the sister car of the Lancia Thema, and continues to offer a unique charm, even if its detailing fails to match the class best
First DriveStill lacks a little polish next to the established rivals, but seriously competitive and likeable nonetheless
Bangs for your buck in US parlance translates into a whole lot of power for not a whole lot of cash. With its new 300C SRT-8, Chrysler has set a lofty benchmark for bangs and bucks. Take a look at what’s on offer: 6.1-litre Hemi V8, 425bhp, 0-60mph in under five seconds and a price tag in the US of just $39,995 – that’s £21,000 here.
Coupled to a smooth-changing, super-intuitive five-speed automatic gearbox, the big Hemi delivers the kind of thundering performance normally reserved for AMG Benzes. While Chrysler talks of 60mph in the ‘low fives’, one US magazine has already clocked a 4.9sec run and 0-100mph in 11.7sec. And the soundtrack alone is worth the purchase price.
The noise from up front is deep, rich and bellowing, all the way up to its higher 6400rpm red line (up from 5800rpm).
Point that bluff bow down a curvy road and the 300 shows agility that belies its considerable bulk. With stiffer and lower (by 13mm) suspension and wrist-thick anti-roll bars, the SRT corners with plenty of front-end bite and minimal body roll.
Hit the brakes and the Chrysler’s ability to shed speed is impressive. Pizza-sized discs – 360mm up front, 350mm at the rear – are clamped by giant four-pot calipers. Not even a series of full-on stops caused the slightest hint of fade.
In the metal the SRT-8 is even more visually dramatic than the regular 300, if that’s possible. The new front spoiler is deep enough to plough snow and the 20-inch forged alloys are supercar-big.
Inside you sit on new, heavily bolstered leather and suede seats. There’s also a new instrument pack, complete with 180mph speedo. But the rest is plain-Jane, standard 300C.
Chrysler is promising to bring the SRT-8 to the UK, but hasn’t decided when. The standard 300 goes on sale around October, but if you want your American muscle with extra-large biceps, the SRT8 will be worth the wait.