AUSTRALIA, you've not rolled over and succumbed to a full-blown nanny state existence just yet. As long as cars like the new Chrysler 300 SRT are available to the general public, the Orwellian nightmare is kept at bay.
The big sedan's figures are chest-beatingly good: 350kW and 637Nm from an old-school 6.4-litre pushrod V8 and a sub-five seconds 0-100kmh time.
And the sound from a naturally-aspirated lump of American HEMI muscle? It almost helps you forget the rather frightening fuel consumption.
Australia is the first market to receive the 300 SRT - the Americans won't even be getting this engine in their edition - and comes in SRT Core (the lighter, cheaper and more basic offering) and full fat SRT (more luxurious and more toys) variants.
The Chrysler 300 SRT's unashamedly American looks remain with some bold tweaks, but of greater importance are fully electric steering and an advanced TorqueFlight eight-speed auto arriving to replace the antique five-speed auto of old.
With the SRT you're paying for a stonking engine and hardcore chassis more than outright luxury. Kit is at an impressive level, but don't expect German levels of finish.
Electric seats are firm and supportive (cloth for the Core, leather and suede for the SRT), and suit the car by not being sink-in armchairs so often seen in big American cars. Front chairs are roomy and it feels spacious up front, while out back the rear bench seat - which is heated - is big and cosy, nicely angled for reclining, but leg room isn't incredible for such a big car.
Negatively, I found the steering wheel a bit too large and cumbersome, the gear shift dial a tad plasticky and the foot-operated parking brake a bit too 1980s.
But it's a nice place to go to work, with cool blue dials and decent 8.4-inch UConnect centre-mounted touchscreen.
On the road
There's a deep, almost gentle burble at idle and cruise, but drop a few cogs and floor the throttle and the lazy V8 roars to life with a wall of sound and a confident surge to propel you to silly speeds in a heartbeat.
With a closed test runway at our disposal the on-board computer showed a 5.1-second time to 100kmh in sodden conditions, and a ¼-mile dash in 13-seconds. Rapid for a two-tonne beastie that gripped with aplomb despite the rain, and good grief the Brembo big brake kit - standard on all 300 SRTs - stunningly reins things in.
And oversteer? Well, it's a rear drive 350kW V8 from the 'States. It needs little persuasion to see the rear kick out in a predictable, easily controlled manner. A good armful of opposite lock, keep the bent-eight spinning and try to wipe the grin off your face. This is old-school entertainment.
The eight-speed auto is a huge improvement and goes about its work without fuss. You have three drive modes to play with - Default, Sport and Track - each modifying the damping system, steering response, throttle response and time held in gear.
Buy the range-topping SRT and you get adaptive damping performance suspension linked to the car's three drive modes. This does add some additional comfort in Default setting, and no doubt some more assurance when really pushing the big Chrysler, something we couldn't do to much extent due to sodden greasy roads in rural NSW.
Default for around town is a must, and even then it is still a burbling monster wanting to be unleashed, but in Sport mode on an open road it's a revelation. It can't hide its weight and size at times, but its huge power and torque, decent steering feedback and limited-slip differential makes for an assured machine in most circumstances.
What do you get?
Plenty. The leaner Core model has satin black 20-inch wheels (which we think look better than the blingy SRT rims), Brembo big brake kit, limited slip differential, launch control, 8.4-inch touchscreen and heated front and rear seats.
The 300 SRT adds 20-inch polished forged aluminium wheels, leather and alcantara trim, three-mode adaptive damping suspension, Harman Kardon audio (which is superb), carbon fibre interior trim, sat nav, adaptive cruise control, lane departure, forward collision and blind spot warnings.
Loving the planet and owning a USA-sourced sedan with 6.4-litre HEMI V8 ain't easy.
Make friends with your local servo station as 13-litres/100km is quoted, while we returned over 15 on our road test. Urban travel sees over 20-litres, but there are few better ways to gorge on unleaded or scare small children.
The cars are equipped with fuel saver technology, turning off four of the eight cylinders where appropriate. It's a start, but the 300 SRT hasn't been given much else in terms of fuel saving tech. Look, it's a 6.4-litre V8 and weighs over two-tonnes with driver on board: there's only so much Chrysler can do.
For this sort of money, you'll need to look at the Holden Commodore SS-V Redline ($52,490) or Ford Falcon XR8 ($53,490), or head towards HSV for a Clubsport R8 ($73,290) to nearly power match.
Boot space isn't huge at 462-litres (a Ford Falcon has 535-litres) thanks to encroaching wheel arches, also making the cargo area shape a tad compromised.
The new SRT's front grille has got even bigger, and the 20-inch wheels with bright red Brembo calipers clenching massive rotors behind give an air of true sporting performance.
There's a more aggressive front bumper and LED rear lights, but beyond that it's pretty much the same imposing beast the Chrysler 300 has always been. And with SRT lettering on the body, much kudos is to be had from performance fans who know exactly what those three letters mean for under the hood.
Aussies still love a big V8 sedan - in dwindling numbers perhaps - but the 300 SRT reminds why there's a passion for good value, high horsepower, rear-drive, in-yer-face brutes.
There's cutting-edge tech, high spec levels and blistering performance no matter which model you choose. Cope with the thirst and you're rewarded with a striking cruiser ready to unleash hell at the twitch of a toe.
What matters most
What we liked: V8 rumble when pushed, beastly performance for such a heavy car, included kit, kW-for-your-dollars value.
What we'd like to see: Bring that fuel consumption down somehow, improved cabin finish in places, lose the foot-operated parking brake.
Warranty and servicing: Comes with a three years/100,000km warranty. Servicing is every 12,000km or six months.
Model: Chrysler 300 SRT Core & 300 SRT.
Details: Four-door rear-wheel drive large performance sedan.
Engine: 6.4-litre HEMI naturally aspirated V8 generating maximum power of 350kW @ 6150rpm and 637Nm @ 4250rpm.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic.
Consumption: 13.0-litres/100km (combined).
Bottom line: 300 SRT Core: $59,000; 300 SRT: $69,000 (both before on-roads).
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