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2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8 Review

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The Auto Page
By John Heilig


Model: 2009 Chrysler 300C SRT8
Engine: 6.1-liter SRT HEMI V8
Horsepower/Torque: 425 hp @ 6000 rpm/420 lb.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 120.0 in.
Length/Width/Height: 196.8 x 74.1 x 57.9 in.
Tires: 245/45ZR20
Cargo volume: 15.6 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway/15.4 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 19.0 gal.
Sticker: $48,470 (includes $700 destination charge and $3,910 in options)

The Bottom Line: The Chrysler 300C SRT8 looks so much like a Bentley that it's uncanny. Performance is also Bentley-like with the SRT treatment. The 300C SRT8 is built on the same platform as the Dodge Charger SRT8, but gives the impression of being a far more genteel car. The performance is there to be sure, but you never get the feeling that you're rushing, even when speeds are approaching triple digits.

Like many manufacturers, Chrysler Corporation builds several cars off the same basic platform. Therefore, you can find a Dodge product with similar attributes to a Chrysler product. In some cases, they even look the same.

But with the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300C SRT8 variants, the cars are built off the same platform, but they have different personalities. The Charger is a typical street rod, similar to the ones built in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Chrysler 300C, on the other hand, is more sophisticated in its approach to performance. It is just as powerful and has all the performance goodies that the Charger has, but it does its job in a more elegant manner.

Perhaps my opinions of the 300C SRT8 are clouded by the car's amazing resemblance to the Bentley sedan. Every time I entered the Chrysler I felt as if I was entering a Bentley. Now the Chrysler doesn't have all the wood and leather of the higher-priced Bentley, but there's enough external resemblance to confuse older people. It confused some people in our favorite restaurant as well. When they walked out we could see them eyeing the 300C more than they would some other cars.

Make no mistake, though. When you hit the loud pedal the 300C is just as alive as the Charger and is just as willing to perform. The 6.1-liter SRT HEMI V8 delivers 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, enough to get you up to the speed limit in a short time.

Power reaches the wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission that was smooth and to the point. The tires are 245/45ZR20 on all four wheels. Controlling wheel spin is a limited-slip differential.

To stop, there are four-wheel disc brakes with Brembo 4-piston calipers. The brake calipers are red and easily visible through the aluminum wheels, letting those passers-by know that something's going on there.

Like all the SRT vehicles, the front seats offer excellent side support to go with the modified suspension that allows faster cornering. Sadly, the rear seats aren't as comfortable, but we doubt if there will be many people riding back there.

Like all Chryslers considered full size, there is a decent trunk, but with a fairly high liftover.

The 300C appears boxy (and this from the company that "invented" the aero look with the Concorde), but there is no evidence of wind noise. There is evidence of a nice throaty roar caused by the engine, but if you aren't looking for that in the first place, buy the more conventional 5.7-liter V8 instead.

I've had the opportunity to drive several Chrysler products with the corporation's SRT8 treatment that makes a solid performance car form a normal sedan (or SUV). The 300C SRT8 is a bit of an anachronism in that you expect a semi-luxury sedan type of performance but get performance that can win you almost any stop-light drag race you'd like to enter. We tested the 300C SRT8 in the winter, so our opportunities to check the performance were limited, but we had enough of a taste that I may try to re-schedule this car in better weather.

2009 The Auto Page Syndicate