A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to drive the Daytona Charger. It was bright Orange and turned out to be a head-turner for people of all ages – men and women, kids and dogs.
When Chrysler handed me the keys to the SRT8 I was a little disappointed because it was just plain black. However it wasn’t just plain black – it was pearlescent black – very classy, until it rained. Then it was just dirty. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do with black cars to keep them clean, except clean them constantly. On the positive side, the SRT8 didn’t bring any undue attention upon itself – only car guys knew what it was (and there were plenty of them). For the most part however, we managed to drive around un-noticed until I touched the gas pedal.
Like music to my ears, the sound of that V-8 is addictive! The deep growl and burble brought back memories of a couple of summers ago – along with some goose bumps too.
Climbing behind the wheel, the first thing I noticed were the differences from the Daytona. The trim pieces on the SRT8 are silver accents instead of the orange that permeated the Daytona – it made the whole interior a little less interesting, but others might be more appreciative of the low-key approach of the SRT8 instead of the in-your-face attitude of the Daytona. Other than the lack of colour, the interior is exactly the same – except for the seats.
These are without a doubt the most comfortable seats I’ve had the pleasure of putting my bum on. With shoulder and thigh bolsters, these seats keep you well planted when flying around corners at speeds well above the posted limits. The large leather/suede combo bucket seats are also heated and have a manual lumbar adjustment that I didn’t have to use – that’s a first!
The back and seat cushions are power operated and there are even electrically adjustable pedals to get the driver into the best driving position. The passenger also enjoys the same seat as the driver – too often the passenger gets short-changed in the comfort department but not in the SRT8.
The thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel is tilt and telescopic adjustable too. The SRT8 logo is stitched into the headrests and contrasting red stitching trims all the seats – front and rear.
Driving under normal conditions, the SRT8 is very sedate and other than the bright red Brembo brakes, no one will give you much of a glance. Coming up behind other drivers that actually use the rearview mirror, the SRT8 usually has them moving out of the way.
I don’t know if it’s because the local constabulary are now driving around in black Chargers, or maybe it’s the large hood scoop that dominates their rearview mirror – either way traffic moves aside fairly quickly.
One thing that I didn’t like about the Charger is the placement of the cruise control and turn signal stalks. First of all the cruise control stalk is a thin stick that sits at the 11 o’clock position – it’s easy enough to use, but it completely blocks the left turn signal light – you have no idea if it’s on or not, and that leads me to the turn signal stalk. The turn signal stock sits at the 8 o’clock position, so you think the turn signal is on all the time, but you can’t tell just by looking for the indicator on the dash. Stupid!! Add to this the wiper controls that are on the turn signal stalk and it’s mayhem until you figure it all out and get used to them.
The back seat area is very large and accommodating, but certainly designed more for two passengers than three. There’s a large tunnel running between the seats that would hinder the middle passenger getting comfortable for any more than just a short journey. There’s an abundance of leg, knee and foot space and hip, shoulder and headroom are also very generous – as you’d expect from a vehicle of this size. Trunk space is plentiful, and the rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 arrangement for even more cargo capacity.
The 6-disc in-dash stereo/SatNav is an all-in-one unit manufactured by Kicker and features a 276-watt Kicker amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer – both unique to the SRT. The head unit and subwoofer are complimented by 11Kicker speakers. This is as close as you can get to the perfect audio set up in a car. For the incredibly cheap price of $845 U.S. [$1,300 Cdn] you get the aforementioned stereo system plus a security alarm – bargoon!!!
The steering and suspension are definitely another step-up from the Daytona Charger. The whole car is stiffer, and throwing it with abandon into sharp corners was not optional – but mandatory! The big 20” rims and Goodyear 245/45ZR tires grip with such vigor that there’s never a feeling you just might be pushing this behemoth too far. Sharp bends are flat and there’s no sliding or understeer – Dodge claim .89G of skidpad grip.
Stomping on the go pedal brings a loud throaty roar from the engine, a very slight hesitation, and then everyone is pinned to their respective seat until the driver runs out of road – or courage. I had my mother-in-law with me on a couple of occasions and even her conservative and forever judging attitude changed once I’d buried the throttle and we raced down the road. I looked over my shoulder to see her grinning ear to ear before telling me that was enough for an old gal like her. (She didn’t even want to know what speed we were traveling at).
Unfortunately, where I live, the roads are clogged with literally thousands of moving speed bumps – most driving gold or silver Toyota Corollas for some reason. The only real opportunities available to appreciate the power of any vehicle is while entering the motorway using the on-ramps. The power of the SRT8 is completely wasted in southern Ontario, but the brakes on the other hand are used virtually every other minute.
Thankfully the SRT8 has terrific brakes to bring this eager motor to a halt. With 4-piston Brembo brakes and vented disks, the SRT can be stopped in (approximately) 33.5 meters from 100 km/h (Dodge figures). I have no reason to doubt those numbers, as the ABS helped to make the stops fast and fade free. I tried several times to get a proper 0-100 time with my accelerometer, but each time I was thwarted by an inconsiderate motorist.
I pulled off one time: 5.8 seconds, but that is slow compared to what I could have gotten with an empty road. In reality, I’d estimate very low 5 seconds for the sprint to 100 kms.
For more information visit: www.drivesrt.com/en
What’s not to love about the Charger SRT8? I loved the Daytona R/T, and now that I’ve tried the SRT8 – it’s even better. With the bigger engine and wheels, as well as the outstanding suspension it’s a tough car to beat. It’s a bit more anonymous than the Daytona, but you can always opt for the Super Bee decals if you want to be noticed. Otherwise it makes a perfect “stealth” vehicle.
The fuel economy isn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be – sure beats the 48 L/100 kms of yesteryear. Bearing in mind that it takes a lot of self-restraint to try and drive the SRT8 like a regular person, (which is impossible with that much power under the right foot) fuel economy is probably quite acceptable.
The sound of that exhaust is so addictive
Goes like stink and stops on a dime
Incredible stereo system
The turn signal/wiper stalk and the cruise control stalk
Chrysler 300 SRT8 and Dodge Charger Daytona R/T
By The Numbers…
Please visit your local dealer for the latest prices and incentives.
Powertrain: 6.1 Litre SRT HEMI V-8 engine, 5-Speed automatic transmission with AutoStick, RWD
Horsepower: 425 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 420 @ 4,800 rpm
0 – 100 km/h: 5.8 seconds
Top Speed: 274 km/h
Fuel Consumption: [Premium – 91 octane]
The 6.1 L, 425 HP V-8 is rated at City 16.5 L/100 kms and Highway 10.9 L/100 kms
I averaged 14 L/100 kms mixed City/Highway driving, and 12.4 L/100 kms in almost 100% motorway driving
Copyright © 2009 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland
Also Published at: Flagworld.com/roadtests & Automobilsports.com