By Joe Wiesenfelder on April 19, 2011
After a model year's hiatus, the SRT8 version of Chrysler's flagship sedan is back in the form of the 2012 300 SRT8. Based on the 300C, which was redesigned for 2011, the SRT8 boasts a 6.4-liter V-8 that generates 465 horsepower and 465 pounds-feet of torque, compared with 425 hp and 420 pounds-feet in the 2010 version's 6.1-liter. Chrysler says it does zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.
The transmission is a five-speed automatic with AutoStick gear selector plus steering-wheel shift paddles. Though EPA figures aren't out yet, Chrysler says the highway mileage increases by 25 percent over the previous model, which was rated 13/19 mpg city/highway.
A computer-controlled adaptive suspension is new for 2012. It has a Sport setting that firms up the ride, but the real value is the system's constant monitoring of, and adjusting for, driving conditions. The steering, which had been criticized for being numb and vague, has been revised.
The brakes employ vented and slotted discs. There are four-piston calipers at all four corners, though they're larger in the front.
The 300 SRT8 rests a half-inch lower than the 300 and appears lower still due to side sill extensions. Four-inch-diameter dual chrome tailpipes are integrated into the rear bumper. Twenty-inch aluminum wheels are standard, but an optional Black Chrome Package mutes the shine on the wheels, grille frame and rear diffuser.
Interior upgrades include SRT-branded sport seats and steering wheel, carbon-fiber trim and racing-style pedals. As in the previous generation, the 2012 SRT8 monitors and displays acceleration times, braking distance and g-force — this time on a new color display. The touch-screen mounted in the center of the dash shows this data and adds steering angle, yaw angle and engine output.
Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a Cars.com launch veteran, leads the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe