2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 / 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 – First Drive Review

If we were to make a list of unforgettable cars of the previous decade, the first-generation Chrysler 300 SRT8 and Dodge Charger SRT8 would be on it. They were nutso full-sizers with 425-hp, 6.1-liter Hemis; aggressive looks; and chest-thumping exhausts. Those qualities earned them a pass for their shortcomings—which included occasionally crashy suspensions, plasticky interiors, turret-like outward vision, and a five-speed automatic transmission that could have used an additional ratio (or three).

We wouldn’t find ourselves smitten with the all-new 2012 300 SRT8 and Charger SRT8—each packing a larger, revised 6.4-liter Hemi with 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque—if they were to arrive with similar faults. Our first chance to be smote came on the twisty roads north of Los Angeles and on the quick, 2.5-mile road course at Willow Springs International Raceway near Lancaster, California. (For more details on the new Hemi, check out our 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 test.)

Status Elevated: The 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

It was at the track that we received our first opportunity to let a preproduction 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 off its leash. Barreling down the front straight, the acceleration was stupefying for a full-size sedan, but is it quicker than before? We won’t know for sure until we strap on the test gear, but we predict a 4.6-second sprint to 60. That’s 0.1 second quicker, with the 6.4’s additional 45 horses and 50 lb-ft likely able to overcome a 150-ish-pound weight gain. Figure on a quarter-mile time of about 13 flat, an improvement of 0.2 second. (The Dodge should return identical numbers.)

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