By Jim Gorzelany
The Chrysler 300C SRT8 debuted in March and has already sold out (it was an abbreviated model year with only 240 units). A 2006 version is now hitting showrooms.
Changes are limited to the addition of front seatbelt warning chimes, a cruise-control indicator light and four-wheel tire-pressure monitoring system.
The 300C SRT8 (starting at $39,920) is a high-performance version of the popular 300C sedan and will be joined by similar versions of the Dodge Charger and Magnum this year. It performs like a super-car (zero to 60 mph in around five seconds) thanks to a 6.1-liter version of the 300C's Hemi V8 engine that produces an explosive 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. (See our Standard Equipment & Specs page for more information.)
While some import sport sedans may offer more sophistication, at around $40,000 it's hard to top the 300C SRT8's sheer muscle for the money. If you're concerned about fuel consumption, though, consider that this thirsty beast averages 17 miles per gallon, according to the EPA.
A beefed up and specially calibrated five-speed automatic, with the option of manual gear selection, is the only available transmission. Handling has been upgraded compared to standard 300C sedans with a lower ride height (by one-half inch), beefier anti-roll bars, stiffer springs, sophisticated Bilstein shock absorbers, antilock Brembo disc brakes and 20-inch aluminum wheels with Goodyear F1 performance tires.
Bilstein and Brembo are both respected suppliers of racing and high-performance parts, which is why they were tapped for Chrysler's SRT ? "Street Racing Technology" ? models.
The conventional 300C already holds the pavement well, and the SRT8's modifications make it even more tenacious, though they create a harsher ride. The car's standard Electronic Stability Program is tuned to maximize cornering abilities and allow the car to slide some through curves without intervention. While traction control remains standard, you'll need to stock a set of winter tires if you live in a Northern state or swap the standard performance-oriented F1s for all-season rubber (a no-cost option) since they're rated only for three-season use.
As with the 300C, standard equipment is plentiful and includes such high-end items as adjustable pedals and a Boston Acoustics audio system with CD changer and MP3 playback. Options include a DVD entertainment system, Sirius satellite radio, navigation system, a remote engine starter and side-curtain airbags. The latter should be standard on a car at this price.