By Veeno Dewan

It’s not often that I write about a car’s engine first, but in the case of the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 one must. Why? Well…the monster SRT8 engine in our tester featured an outrageous 6.4 litre V8 HEMI engine generating an insane 470 horsepower with 470 lb-ft of torque power!

Now this should give you food for thought if you thought the 5.7 Liter and Chrysler’s 6.1L V8 HEMIs engine were huge. Filling the engine bay the huge HEMI engine is sight to behold. And thankfully the transmission is also updated to handle the huge torque. I\in the SRT8’s case a 5-speed automatic with Steering wheel mounted shift paddles for performance shifting. You can also use the Sport Mode to modify parameters such as shift mapping, throttle response and electronic stability control levels. Note the new Chrysler 8-speed autobox has not made it to the SRT8 HEMI. But should be as it offers better fuel economy and faster acceleration.

However the HEMI perversely does feature Chrysler’s fuel-saving MDS cylinder deactivation technology that allows the V8 to with two or four cylinders operating on light loads.

Our gleaming white SRT8 tester rode on smoked chrome 20 inch rims with RS-A 245/45R20 Goodyear Eagle tires. The SRT8 package includes the wheel and tire package plus the SRT8 badges, a rear deck lid spoiler and more aggressive looking front fascia. The 300 is still awe inspiring to look at with its lantern jawed looks, menacing grill and long low greenhouse. “Is that a Bentley I just saw you in,” one friend asked me!

Our SRT has all the toys such as big touchscreen infotainment, hands-free texting and voice-command navigation, such goodies as the full power leather heated and cooled front seats, heated and cooled front cupholders and the heated steering wheel. Our tester featured the SafetyTec Group a $2,000 option that included Rear Fog Lamps, Forward Collision Warning Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), ParkSense Front / Rear Park Assist System, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Dual−Pane Panoramic Sunroof, $1,475 Uconnect Touch display CD/DVD/MP3/NAV system with a big 8.2 inch display and Garmin Navigation System and rear backup camera.

Note the interior is vastly improved and our SRT tester featured wonderful red leather and perforated SRT 8 logoed seats and trim. Neat carbon fibre trim and cool blue lit instrument pod and ambient lighting marks a roomy, comfortable cabin.

On the road the SRT8 is marked by tire screeching acceleration on hard starts as you goose the big V8 engine. The tremendous acceleration is visceral and exciting as the twin exhaust burble away. Even starting, the engine roars into life and settles into a quivering thumping ideal…very nice. Use the paddle shifters on the cool leather and chrome flat bottomed steering wheel and you can easily be looking at sub five and four second times for the 0-100 km/h times dash.

Don’t expect the athletic, nimbler handling of lighter sports sedan with smaller displacement engines. However the SRT8 takes sharp curves in its stride with surprisingly tight defined handling.

The big HEMI drinks fuel, but you might be the interested to know the engine can deactivate down to four cylinder operation at lower power to achieve ratings of 15.0L/100km and 8.7L/100km, city and highway driving respectively. It may not seem like a lot, but with the substantial weight, heft and power this big meaty sedan weighs in with its not too shabby. Too sum up the SRT8 looks suitable impressive. menacing and features the classis Bentleyesque styling so beloved by everyone.

It not cheap but the, distinctive styling, the SRT8 badge on the rear, the beautiful interior and the awesome, legendary engine is worth the money to some. This is a superb alternative to sometimes ns anonymous, soulless more mundane competitors from Europe and Japan. Highly recommended