There's a lot to go over on this new 300 SRT8, but we wouldn't waste a vowel before talking power. Gone is the 425-horsepower 6.1-liter Hemi V8, replaced with the the Pentastar's new 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine that first appeared in the new Challenger SRT8 392. The new V8 produces 465 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, up 40 ponies and 45 lb-ft versus the outgoing engine. What's more, that upgraded output is also more usable for 2012, as Chrysler tells us we can expect an additional 80 lb-ft of torque at 2,900 rpm, which translates into more thrust from a standstill. How much? Official estimates are 0-60 "in the high four-second range," and a quarter-mile time of fewer than 13 seconds. The transmission of choice will be the carryover five-speed automatic, though paddle shifters will join the automatic to give drivers a couple options for gear selection.
All that power is worthless without proper stoppers, so Chrysler engineers fitted 14.2-inch front rotors and 13.8-inch discs out back, while four-piston Brembo calipers supply the bite. Chrysler's tape measure reveals that these high-end brakes manage to bring this undoubtedly heavy sedan (the last generation SRT8 tipped the scales at 4,046 lbs) from 60 mph to a stand-still in under 120 feet.
More power and better performance can often lead to less desirable fuel economy, yet Chrysler insists that this SRT8 actually boasts a 25-percent increase in efficiency. One reason for the big improvement is a new active valve exhaust system, which allows the big V8 to drop down to four-cylinder mode over a much wider RPM range than before. The company isn't ready to provide specific numbers, but our math tells us to expect about 24 miles per gallon in highway driving.
Also new for 2012 is an Adaptive Damping Suspension, which gauges vehicle speed, steering speed and angles, brake torque, throttle position and acceleration to tone the suspension under any condition. Drivers can also choose from Auto or Sport settings that automatically change shock damping and ride comfort.
We're all for function over form, but you can't have an SRT-infused 300 without a menacing look that matches the performance. The 2012 300 SRT8 starts with a set of seven-spoke 20-inch wheels. The brawny four-door is dropped by a half inch, while side cladding is painted in body color. The front and rear fascias were updated as well, in an effort to help the SRT model stand out compared to other members of the 300 family. We're especially fond of the new slotted upper and lower front grilles, which depart from the chain-mail look of the first-generation SRT8.
Inside, the 300 SRT8 features unique leather seating surfaces; a unique, heated steering wheel; and plenty of SRT badging to go around. Also present are the expectant carbon fiber interior trim pieces adorning the dash and doors. Functional upgrades include an Electronic Vehicle Information Center that can measure 0-60, eighth mile and quarter mile times as well as braking distances. Controls for the EVIC are accessed from the steering wheel, and all of the information is available on the large 8.4-inch LCD screen, which can also display information like steering and yaw angle, horsepower and torque outputs.
Add up everything that goes into the 300 SRT8, and you have what Chrysler calls "the most powerful and best handling model ever." We want one.