Chrysler Fills out SRT8 Lineup with 300C SRT8 and Grand Cherokee SRT8
By Chris Haak
I love attending auto shows – I’ve been doing it for two decades. But in recent years, attending an auto show in person has become an exercise of questionable utility. You’re herded like cattle from press conference to press conference. You have to make a choice as to whether you want to hear the press conference or step away to write about something you saw or heard earlier. But lately, it’s also come to the point that there is no such thing as a “reveal.” That’s happened online, either intentionally or unintentionally, in the days or even weeks leading up to the show.
And so it was with the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and 2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8. The Dodge Charger SRT8 was revealed months ago, and it stood to reason that we’d see SRT8 versions of the new Grand Cherokee and 300C as well. Spy photos appeared of the Grand Cherokee SRT8, offering further confirmation that this new vehicle was on its way eventually.
Then, first thing this morning, the embargo on the photos of the 300C SRT8 and Grand Cherokee SRT8 was lifted, and we all saw these new vehicles in high-resolution photos for the first time. We also got confirmation of their specs – such as the 465-horsepower, 465 lb-ft that their new 6.4 liter Hemis produce.
So it was more than a little anticlimactic to see these two vehicles revealed today in separate press conferences. The upshot was that the Jeep introduction featured a video that illustrated just what it looks and sounds like to take a Grand Cherokee SRT8 from zero to sixty in 4.8 seconds. Such an act begins with the big Hemi booming to life, sounding like something right out of the Sprint Cup, and continues with a series of glorious sounds – you guessed it – 4.8 seconds later.
Chrysler promises that the 300C SRT8, which is estimated to have the identical power and torque ratings, will do the same zero to sixty feat in “high fours,” so the Jeep’s heavier weight may be mitigated by its superior all wheel drive traction off the line. In the quarter mile, the Chrysler would win, with its estimate in the “high twelve second range” and the Jeep estimated to take a bit longer, in the 13s. You’ll be able to verify either vehicle’s performance with the SRT performance meters in both cars, and the 300C’s meter resides in full-color in the large navigation display. (The Jeep’s resides in gauge area, between the speedometer and tachometer).
Previous SRT-brand vehicles were known for their power, braking, and handling, but were occasionally lacking in the refinement department. Ride quality was improved by incorporating an adaptive damping suspension (ADS) system in the 300C SRT8.
Braking performance is improved as well, with new 14.2 inch front and 13.8 inch Brembo rotors in the 300C SRT8. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 gets even bigger binders, with 15 inch vented rotors (and six-piston calipers) in the front and 14 inch vented rotors in the rear (with four-piston calipers). Chrysler claims that a 60-0 stop takes just 116 feet in the Grand Cherokee SRT8, and 120 feet in the 300C SRT8 (which, you’ll note, has smaller rotors and four-piston front calipers to the SUV’s six-piston ones).
The interiors of both SRT products enjoy upgrades even beyond what the models received with their generational changes for 2011. The 300C SRT8 gets an SRT-specific steering wheel that’s thicker than the standard wheel and has a flat bottom. Both vehicles receive real carbon fiber interior trim in place of the wood that their more pedestrian brethren might have. The seats in both vehicles are upgraded with additional bolstering, and the Grand Cherokee gets suede-like inserts to hold the driver’s and passengers’ rear ends in place where they belong during aggressive driving.
Despite the added power, Chrysler engineers managed to dramatically improve the (admittedly abysmal) fuel economy of both vehicles. The 300C SRT8 achieves a claimed 25 percent highway fuel economy improvement thanks to cylinder deactivation and an active valve exhaust system that allows the deactivation feature to work over a broader range of operating conditions. The company claims that the Grand Cherokee SRT8 will see a 13 percent highway fuel economy improvement thanks to the same technology, which translates into a 450-mile range from its 24.6-gallon fuel tank (that’s 18.3 MPG for all of you non-math majors out there like me). Chrysler won’t claim fuel economy numbers for the 300C SRT8 until “closer to the vehicle introduction,” but the claimed 25 percent highway improvement should mean that highway mileage goes from the 2010 SRT8’s 19 MPG to 23.75 MPG. If so, that would be pretty remarkable, since the 2011 300C 5.7 liter V8 is rated at 25 MPG highway.
Both models should debut later this summer as 2012 models.