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UNLEASHING THE BRUTE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Oct 30, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

UNLEASHING THE BRUTE By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

When the 2005 Chrysler 300C came into the scene, it shook up the sedan market with its bold and powerful looks. The 300C successfully backed up the 'in-your-face' brute styling with a 340 horsepower HEMI V8 engine, sport-tuned fully independent suspension, big vented steel disc brakes riding on 18x8 performance wheels and tires. The 300C ended up being voted the 2005 car of the year by two automotive magazines. Now, Chrysler brings out an ultra-high-performance version, with the limited edition 300C SRT8 (Street & Racing Technology) model. If there is any doubt about Chrysler's commitment to high-performance sedans, the SRT8 model should quiet the doubters. The 300C SRT8 is a world-class sport and luxury sedan, with a price tag starting at just $39,300.00. That price is many thousands of dollars less than the nearest competition from America, Europe or Japan. Notwithstanding its bargain price, Chrysler's SRT team of designers and engineers seems to have spared no expense in putting together one of the world's best-looking and highest-performing four-door sedans. The SRT8's 'in-your-face' styling is compelling, with straight lines, right angles and a four-piece lower aero-bodykit that sets the muscular tone of this no-nonsense super sedan. Up front is a massive fascia with a large egg-crate grille that juts out ever so slightly, and carries the Chrysler's signature emblem on top. The optional, jewel-like high-intensity discharge (HID) front lamp clusters are set back and placed behind clear lenses. The big front bumper has two inlets that help with airflow and directly channel air to cool the massive Brembo front brakes. Two powerful fog lamps are integrated at each sides. Just below is a chin spoiler to further enhance front airflow. The 300C SRT8 cuts through the wind with a low 0.34 coefficient of drag. The bold styling theme is further evident from the side, with a long hood and short deck layout, short front and rear overhangs, flared fenders stuffed with huge 20x9 wheels, body-side molding, big pull-out door handles, and a character line that starts above the headlamp cluster and runs back to the rear tail lamp cluster. Above the beltline is a sweptback windshield A-pillar that leads flat over the roof and narrow side windows, then gently down onto the high trunk lid. A chrome strip elegantly wraps around the greenhouse glass. The unique rear fascia is indented back slightly and drops flat to the big bumper. A lip spoiler is integrated at the end of the short trunk lid and increases downward force by 39 percent - without increasing drag. Big tail, brake and backup lamps fit nicely at the sides, and peering under the bumper are two 3 and 1/2-inch chrome exhaust tips nicely spread out. On the right side of the trunk lid is a SRT8 badge.

The 300C SRT8 features body panels made from thick, two-sided galvanized steel sheet metal, and an aluminum hood. The unitized steel frame and chassis have been reinforced with added welds and braces to manage the extra power and handling capabilities. The 300C SRT8 is a very bold statement from Chrysler. I am very impressed with the car's styling, ride and handling dynamics. It's really amazing how fast Chrysler turned their large sedan sales figures and image around, because last year's top Chrysler sedan was the 300M with a 260-horsepower V6 and front-wheel-drive. The SRT engineering and design team doesn't disappoint in any respect to high-performance driving and acceleration adrenaline rushes. The SRT8's specially designed 6.1-liter iron block/aluminum head, SOHC HEMI V8 engine generates 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. SRT powertrain engineers achieved more horsepower by adding more cubic inches, increasing the compression ratio, redesigning the cylinder head intake and exhaust systems for increased flow, and increased engine speed. To get more displacement, SRT engineers bored out the diameter of the cylinders by 3.5 mm each to increase the total displacement to 6.1 liters, up from 5.7 liters in the regular 300C HEMI. V8. The compression ratio was also increased to 10.3:1 from 9.6:1, unleashing more energy in the combustion process. Engine breathing was increased with new high-flow cylinder heads, a specially designed intake manifold, and exhaust 'headers' with individual tubes encased in a stainless steel shell, all unique to the 2005 Chrysler 300C SRT8's 6.1 liter HEMI engine. Larger diameter valves and reshaped cylinder ports in the heads allow for maximized air flow. The intake manifold was designed with larger diameter runners for higher-speed tuning. Exhaust is routed through a larger-diameter (2.75 in. vs. 2.5 in.) exhaust system with 3.5-inch chrome tips. Performance-oriented camshaft profiles were developed to balance total vehicle requirements, simultaneously allowing more air in and out of cylinders. This increases performance and manages a higher engine speed, which is another method to increase hp. SRT engineers increased the HEMI's peak engine speed nearly 15 percent, to 6,200 rpm from 5,400 rpm. Intake and exhaust valve stems are hollow, and the exhaust valve stems are filled with sodium to help dissipate heat more efficiently. The high-performance 6.1-liter HEMI V8 is further strengthened with a host of redesigned components, including a reinforced engine block with increased coolant flow, forged steel crankshaft, high-strength powered-metal connecting rods, floating-pin pistons (cooled by oil squirters), and an oil pan modified for reduced oil foaming.

The 6.1-liter HEMI's power is channeled through a stronger A580 five-speed automatic transmission, with specially calibrated AutoStick driver-selectable range control. This gives the SRT8 fully automatic or manual shifting selection. A heavy-duty four-flange prop shaft sends the torque from the transmission to an upgraded SRT designed differential and axles. The SRT designed chassis setup is aimed at all-around comfort and high-performance with a fully independent suspension that includes, up front, a SLA modified wishbone with high upper A-arms, specially tuned lateral and diagonal lower links with dual ball-joint front knuckles, specially tuned high-rate coil springs over re-valved Bilstein gas-charged shock absorbers, specially tuned suspension bushings, and a larger diameter link stabilizer bar. The rear independent suspension has five links, re-valved Bilstein gas-charged shock absorbers, specially tuned spring rates, specially tuned suspension bushings, and a larger diameter anti-sway bar in an isolated suspension cradle. New front and rear suspension knuckles contribute to a ride height lowered one-half inch from the Chrysler 300C. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) has been specially tuned for the SRT8's performance handling characteristics, and can be shut off pushing a dash mounted button, to let the rear end slide out for added excitement and fun in the turns. This high-performance suspension system is hooked up with a specially tuned, hydraulic assisted, rack and pinion system. SRT engineers enhanced steering response and feel for the road by adding a Nine-Land performance gear that makes driving the SRT8 an experience like no other. Mild mannered around slow city traffic under light throttle, open it up on the road and the 300C SRT8 is breathtaking. The engine pulls effortlessly, quickly reaching it's 6,200 rpm redline. With specially designed 20x9 polished, forged aluminum wheels wrapped around sticky Goodyear 245/45ZR20 front and 255/45ZR20. F1 Supercar performance tires, the acceleration of the SRT8 is spectacular. The exhaust system sound matches the speed with an awesome growl when you mash your foot hard on the throttle. On the straight-aways the 300C SRT8 rides on rails. With a unique, performance-tuned suspension riding on wide 20x9 wheels, you absolutely feel like you are glued to the road. Attacking twisting mountain switchback roads is no problem. The traction control and electronic stability control systems work together to keep you solidly planted on the pavement and on your intended path.. The front end and rear ends stay perfectly flat. The ride is never harsh, and it even smoothes out poorly paved road surfaces. The 300C SRT8 rockets out to 60mph from a standstill in just 4.8 seconds, and covers the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds at 108.1 mph. Top speed is rated at over 175 mph.

The SRT8 is not only a straight-line rocket ship because it can get through a 600-foot slalom at 67.3 mph - a better number than the new M-B CLS500, Lexus GS430, and BMW 745i sedans. These super fast numbers are kept in restraint by a world-class braking system. Yes, SRT engineers designed a braking system that quickly and safely slows the car down from high speeds. The standard 20x9 forged aluminum wheels, with engraved SRT logos, house 14.2-inch vented rotors up front, and 13.8-inch vented rear rotors. These massive rotors are clamps by four-piston, high performance Brembo calipers at each wheel. These incredible brakes are enhanced further with ABS and Brake Assist. On the test track the 300C SRT8 stopped from 60 mph in just 110 feet. No other high-performance luxury sedan can stop shorter. These numbers are true supercar specs. Furthermore, these supercar numbers are not followed by supercar prices. Amazing! On the inside you'll find a roomy cabin for up to five adults that's comfortable, ergonomic luxurious, with performance cues in the front cockpit, along with a host of safety features. The leather-trimed seats all have perforated suede inserts to keep everyone in place and the comfortable front high-back buckets have embroidered logo's and are well bolstered to enhance lateral support during spirited high-speed driving. The steering wheel is one of the best that I have handled so far this year. This beefy, power tilt/telescoping, four-spoke steering wheel features perforated leather on the top and carbon fiber styled leather below, separated by two chrome clamp rings. The top-two aluminum faced spokes have buttons to control the audio system/on-board diagnostic check/trip computer/driver personalization systems. Standard power pedals will give you the right amount of space at your right foot to quickly and precisely engage the throttle and brake pedals. All buttons, switches and chrome beveled dials are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving. The ignition switch is conveniently placed on the dashboard. The unique SRT8 designed instrument cluster is straight-ahead and easy to understand with a large, chrome ringed, 180 mph speedometer, 7,000 rpm tachometer, and smaller gauges for fuel and engine coolant temperature. Bright LED readouts warn of system or safety failures. Between the two large gauges at he top is a screen for information that you can call up from the on-board diagnostic check/ trip computer/outside temperature/compass heading/personalization settings. Just below is a LED readout of your selected gear. Up on top is an overhead console with sunglass holder, dual map lamps and garage/gate opener buttons. The center console contains an open tray for storage, followed by a chrome bezeled rectangle containing the very comfortable to use, chrome stick shifter with leather/aluminum topped knob. Just behind is a pop-up lid with dual cupholders and just above is the big and deep storage bin with 12-volt power plug and leather topped flip-open lid perfectly placed for your elbow. Standard features inside and outside the 300C SRT8, not mentioned above, include rain-sensing intermittent wipers, Chrysler logo-appointed aluminum front door kick plates, four heated headlamp washers, front and rear solar control glass, locking glove box with light, A/C with dual zone auto temperature control, two-driver memory function, rear park assist, inside trunk release, power accessory delay, one-touch, power up/down, front windows/automatic door locks, cell phone storage, engine immobilizer, cruise-control, security alarm, Boston Acoustics 322 watt, seven-speaker, one-subwoofer, RDS AM-FM CD/MP3 player audio system, theater lighting, self dimming rearview and driver-sideview mirrors, eight-way power-adjustable driver-side with manual lumbar support/4-way powered front passenger leather seats, heated front seats, elegant Chrysler clock, storage slots at each door bottom, driver-side front seat-back map pocket, rear climate control outlets, 60/40 split rear folding leather seats, pull-down center armrest with dual cupholders, rear reading lamps, thick-pile carpeting with front/rear floor mats, grab handles above the rear windows, and a giant 15.6 cubic feet trunk with an interior light. Options include cabin air filtration system, supplemental side curtain airbags, one-year subscription to SIRIUS satellite radio, GPS navigation system with a 4x7 color LCD screen, power moonroof and UConnect hands-free communication. Standard safety features include front and rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, advanced multi-stage airbag system inflating with a force appropriate to the severity of the impact, energy absorbing steering column, three-point safety belts at all five seating positions with front seat pretensioners and load limiters, child seat upper tether anchors, occupant classification system, rear door child protection locks, and inside emergency trunk lid release.

The all-new Chrysler 300C SRT8 is a limited edition, ultra-performing luxury sedan - the likes of which have not been seen for quite a while. The SRT8 version had to be to get out of the long shadow cast by the award-winning 300C HEMI. If you are a smart consumer and a serious speed merchant, but need the added function of a four-door sedan, then this just might be the car made for you. For just $42,655.00 you can get the same fully loaded 300C SRT8 that I tested. What a bargain! © All photographs and text by Harvey Schwartz For more information on Chrysler products, go to www.chrysler.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: 2005 Chrysler 300C SRT8 Price of vehicle: $39,995.00 includes destination Engine type: 6.1-liter cast iron block, aluminum heads, SOHC V8 with hemispheric combustion chambers Horsepower: 425 at 6,200 rpm Torque: 420 lb.ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission type: A-580 Heavy-Duty 5-speed electronically controlled automatic with AutoStick sequential shifting Front suspension: Independent, modified double-wishbone with high-upper A-arms, specially tuned lateral and diagonal lower links with dual ball-joint front knuckles, SRT tuned coil springs, Bilstein gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent, 5-links with revalved Bilstein shocks, SRT tuned coil springs, SRT tuned performance bushings, and larger diameter stabilizer in an isolated suspension cradle Wheels/tires: 20x9 polished, forged aluminum wheels, 245/45ZR20 Goodyear F1 supercar radial tires front, and 255/45ZR20 rear Goodyear supercar radial tires Brakes: Front: 14.2-inch vented rotors clamped with four-piston Brembo performance calipers Rear: 13.8-inch vented rotors clamped with four-piston Brembo performance calipers ABS and Brake Assist Overall length: 196.8 in. Overall width: 74.1 in. Overall height: 57.9 in. Curb weight: 4,160 lbs. EPA mileage specs: 17 mpg/city, 25 mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 4.8 sec. 60-0 mph: 110 ft.

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