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Chrysler 300C SRT8 Sedan 2012 review

The steering is also relatively direct and offers a respectable turning circle.

If you wan't to live out your American V8 muscle car fantasy with a new Chrysler 300 in the garage then it will have to be the top-whack SRT8 model at around $66,000.

The previous 5.7 V8 has dissoed making way for a pair of less lively V6s with wheezy voices — the Pentastar 3.6 petrol (port not direct injection) and the (carry-over) VM-Motori 3.0-litre turbo diesel.

This is version two of the chunky Chrysler 300  — essentially a comprehensive make over using the same chassis (from an earlier 1990s Mercedes-Benz E-Class) and sundry changes to the sheetmetal, interior and specification.

Plenty of safety stuff from Chrysler's earlier links with Benz has trickled down into the new 300 some of it optional or available on higher grade models. The look has been influenced by Fiat which owns Chrysler so some elements of the Lancia Thema (European Chrysler 300) have transferred across.

Is it a good lookin' "tough guy'' like the previous model? Not really. Put the two side by side and you'll see. The earlier one nails it while the new one looks like a committee effort, bit of this, bit of that with squinty headlights and overstyled tail lights.

Price

But Chrysler Australia has driven a hard bargain with its new Italian overlords and hits the market with a starting point of $43,000 for the 300 V6 Limited petrol complete with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, 18-inch alloys, decent audio, bi-xenon headlights, power front seats, rear view camera and the US equivalent of a five star crash rating.

It is a serious temptation for someone shopping Holden Berlina or Falcon G6. The next step up is 300C which scores the leather treatment and more kit, then there's the 300C Luxury on top of that.

Engines

The three grades are available with petrol and diesel V6 engines, diesel attracting a $5000 premium but with only a five-speed auto transmission. Those V6 engines are good for 210kW/340Nm on the petrol and 176kW/550Nm on the diesel. The 6.4-litre petrol V8 in SRT 8  generates 347kW/631Nm, comfortably out-powering anything from HSV or FPV.

Fuel saving technology on the petrol V6 includes variable valve timing while the V8 gets cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing (on an overhead valve engine) but still only a five-speed auto. The petrol V6 is capable of returning 9.4-litres/100km, the diesel 7.1 and the V8 13.0.

Driving

It's a weighty beast perched between 1800kg-2000kg model dependent. That's a lot of lard to be hauling around but Chrysler has honed the 300's suspension on all models to offer a surprisingly high level of comfort coupled with a sporty feel. The steering is also relatively direct and offers a respectable turning circle.

But the smallish brakes on the SRT8 would last perhaps a couple of heavy applications from high speed before losing the plot. There's plenty of grip from the big tyres fitted to all models and  the venerable chassis has been reinforced with judicious application of high strength steel in key areas.

On the road it's difficult to choose between the petrol V6 and the diesel, the former with a decided torque advantage offering strong roll on acceleration while the eight-speed tranny in the petrol captures available power and torque smoothly and efficiently to push the big 300 along with purpose.

It's certainly a more engaging drive than a "Falcadore.'' The interior is a breath of fresh air with classic touches and splashes of the latest technology.

Verdict

As an alternative to Holden and Ford large cars — you bet. There's the diesel option, generous spec', eight-speed auto, American looks, rear wheel drive... gets better and better the more you look.

Pricing Guides

$24,420
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$17,490
Highest Price
$31,350

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.5 V6 3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $17,930 – 22,660 2012 Chrysler 300C 2012 3.5 V6 Pricing and Specs
5.7 Hemi V8 5.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $17,490 – 22,110 2012 Chrysler 300C 2012 5.7 Hemi V8 Pricing and Specs
CRD 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $17,490 – 22,110 2012 Chrysler 300C 2012 CRD Pricing and Specs
SRT8 6.1L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $25,410 – 31,350 2012 Chrysler 300C 2012 SRT8 Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$25,410

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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