The Numbers

6.4-litre V8, RWD, 347kW, 631Nm, 0-100km/h in 4.5secs, 13.0L/100km

The Topgear Verdict

Brutish in both appearance and design. The SRT8 is a powerful, if slightly crude, grand tourer.

2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8

The original 2005 300C was a fabulously demented piece of machinery, gift-boxed in slammed, deadly sheet metal, the most distinctive, arresting four-door design to come along in decades.

We expected more of the same with the new model. There’s still an army of wannabe hustlers on the streets of Australia. Why would Chrysler change the most famous gangstamobile since Al Capone’s Cadillac?

We don’t know, but they have, and from kerbside what we have now is just another bloated, conservative, blinged-up luxo barge. Thankfully, it drives better than that. When you head down the road in the SRT8, you can still feel its Mercedes DNA (it dates from when Daimler owned Chrysler, and in part is based on a previous E-Class) right down to the long-travel accelerator, Merc five-speed slushbox, cruisy ride and beautifully weighted, intuitive hydraulic steering.

It’s big, fast, loaded and more comfortable than a bed. You could almost be sitting in a 1990s AMG.

The 6.4 is a lovely olde-worlde pushrod, 16-valve, atmo V8 that needs a bootful to really light it up. If you want loud explosions and primal grunting, you’re in the wrong car. It makes a honeysweet sound, sure, but this is as polite and refined as American muscle-car motoring gets.

One look at it tells you the SRT8 ain’t going to be monstering too many Boxsters through the twisty bits, either, but for something with a footprint of several hectares, it’s tighter and tidier than it appears. It will almost stay with the Falcon RSpec. But not quite.

Like that other example of mid-Noughties, bad-ass Detroit hardware, the Hummer, the original 300C has already become a piece of US history. But as with the gangsters and rappers that inspired it, the Chrysler was always meant to live fast and die young. Growing old and getting respectable doesn’t quite suit it.

Reviewed by: Bill McKinnon