Back in 1955, the Chrysler C-300 cut a swath with its “Forward Look” styling and powerful HEMI V8 engine. It was essentially a NASCAR racer homologated for purpose with a limited run of street cars – a true muscle car, nearly a decade before the Pontiac GTO flashed its tail. Through decades, the Chrysler 300 has proven mighty muscular.
SRT Core edition is for the true enthusiast. Forget heated leather seats, fancy stitched dashboards, or flamboyant color combinations. Instead, passengers ride on non-heated canvas sport thrones and gaze upon vinyl dash and door coverings. It’s not all glum; the thick SRT leather-wrapped steering wheel is near perfect on highway or track and the blue-lit gauges glimmer like ice-encrusted chronographs.
Given austere trim, the interior is well equipped. Harman Kardon audio with 19 speakers will rock your ass. Automatic climate control, dual-pane panoramic sunroof, and Bluetooth calling/streaming audio add convenience. Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system can be controlled by voice, knobs, or a baby-simple touchscreen with easy-to understand icons. Back-up cameras and crash avoidance systems are not Core.
As with other 300s, Core models look like Americanized Bentleys with their big mesh grilles, formal roofline, bunkered windows, and high rear deck. Wide hoods expand to raised edges that give the car presence for observers on both sides of the windshield. SRT highlights include 20” alloys with all-season performance tires, rear spoiler, red brake calipers, and Granite Crystal Metallic exterior paint.
Behind the bold grille is a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 delivering 470 horsepower. By any measure, the 300 SRT is a mean machine. Fuel Saver technology, which pauses four cylinders at cruise, and a five-speed automatic transmission help it deliver 14/23-MPG city/hwy…numbers that were inconceivable six decades ago.
There’s power-a-plenty, but the 300 SRT also has a chassis to back it up. The sedan’s architecture is based on the late-90s Mercedes E-Class, developed while Daimler controlled Chrysler. Its suspension soaks up road rough like an iron sponge and settles onto the Interstate with the presence of Bette Midler at a Pride parade. If you’ve driven older Mercedes, you’ll recognize the car’s moves. It feels like an army of beefy Marys couldn’t divert it from one’s chosen course. For SRT duty, the suspension was stiffened enough to attack tracks without losing its composed daily-drivability.
If you’re looking for a sports car, shop on. From design to handling, the 300 SRT is not that sporty. It will accelerate like drama on RuPaul’s Drag Race, storm highways with skill that belies German pedigree, looks like a movie star, and will bellow like your dog in the morning. It takes arm muscles to heave it around a road course, so don’t look for quick wrist action. I also think it’s time to upgrade the interior trim. Core or not, the canvas unheated seats are a joke.
I read a recent story in a popular car magazine that pondered why somebody would buy a Chrysler 300 SRT. It’s not a mystery and I reject the stupid question out-of-hand. Bad-to-the-bone style, the roar of a HEMI, and a Mercedes-derived chassis are its calling cards. If you want a sexy sports car, but something else. It’s an American Mercedes with brute horsepower that’s bad to the Core. A base price of $44,900 or $52,225 as-tested, however, makes it anything but cheap.
2014 Chrysler 300 SRT Core
Five-passenger, RWD Sedan
Powertrain: 470hp 6.4-liter V8, 5-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels: 20”/20” alloy f/r
Brakes: Brembo disc/disc fr/rr with ABS
Must-have features: Style, God’s HEMI
Fuel economy: 14/23 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Brampton, ON
Base/as-tested price: $44,900/52,225