Back in February of this year Chrysler Group LLC’s SRT (Street and Racing Technology) brand added the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core trim level to their "back to basics performance" line of Core performance vehicles that include the Charger SRT8 Super Bee, SRT Viper and (also added in 2013) Dodge Challenger SRT8.
We have driven the loaded up version of the Chrysler 300 SRT8 with Nappa Leather seating, Power Panoramic Dual Pane Sunroof and the Harman Kardon Premium Audio System with 19 Speakers, a subwoofer and 900-watt amplifier - among a host of other luxury level features.
So we were wanting to drive the Core version to find out what Ralph Gilles, President and CEO — SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC meant when he remarked that "Core models are designed and built with the back-to-basics performance driving enthusiast in mind."
What had they added, or more importantly, taken out to get to the lower price point for the Core?
We got our chance to drive one and find out a couple of weeks ago when SRT brand delivered us a 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT Core in Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat with a Black Interior to drive for the week.
Getting in for the first time and pushing the start button, the dials and gauges sprang to life with their signature sapphire blue glow as the 6.4L HEMI V-8 turned over with its distinctive throaty rumble that continued as it idled.
We took a look around the instrumentation and other features to see what was now not included in this new Core version with its MSRP about $5,000 less than the standard trim 300 SRT8.
The first feature we noticed missing, and maybe suggesting what Gilles might have meant by having the "back-to-basics performance driving enthusiast in mind", was the rear view backup camera.
After only a moment of thought, it came to us that no backup camera makes reasonable sense when this car has been designed to go forward - not just fast - but real fast with its HEMI V-8 delivering 470 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque through the WA580 five-speed automatic with Auto Stick and paddle shifters.
With “Track” mode (performance shifting and gear holding feature combined with “Sport” mode suspension damping rates), a 3.06 rear end and running on 20x9-inch cast wheels with 245/45ZR20 performance tires - the performance numbers for this 300 SRT8 Core include 0-60 mph acceleration in the high 4-second range, quarter mile in high 12-second range, 0-100-0 mph in less than 16 seconds, a top speed of 175 mph and stopping power from 60-0 mph in 120 feet.
With this kind of performance capability, we ask, who is going to want to drive this baby in reverse?
Now we do want to be clear - in case you thought we were being a bit cavalier here - that we think a rear view camera for additional safety when backing up is a good feature, but not all cars have them today and they are not required. We would remind all drivers that nothing, including a backup camera, takes the place of checking all mirrors and even looking over both shoulders when preparing to and actually backing a vehicle up.
We noted that there are no Fog Lights and that the HID headlights are Halogen, and of course, the optional Harman Kardon Sound System is not there (which we can live without), but the other technology important to performance is.
The Instrument Cluster includes a 180-mph primary speedometer and a Driver selectable Electronic Vehicle Information Center with a full color Center Screen that provides performance measurement pages that includes 0-60 mph, one-eighth mile, one- quarter mile and 60-0 mph timers, g-force and peak g-force and tire-pressure monitoring (TPM) display, engine hour meter, oil pressure, oil temperature, coolant temperature, transmission oil temperature, trip computer, instant fuel economy, trip fuel economy, trip time elapsed, radio information, outside temperature and (yes, if you want to know it) the “ECO”-lamp indicator.
The multi-media system for this 300 SRT8 Core is anchored by the Uconnect 8.4N system with 8.4-in. touchscreen LED display with Garmin navigation, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA, Uconnect Voice Command and SD card reader, SiriusXM Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link, SiriusXM Traffic, Uconnect Voice Command with Bluetooth and a USB Port with iPod Control and Auxiliary input jack.
The audio system is the perfectly adequate Alpine premium system with six speakers and 276-watt 8-channel amplifier.
The 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core model features a distinctive and unique 6.4L badge on the front fenders, the 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels with black painted pockets and standard black Brembo brake calipers (you can get them in red if you want) and a body color rear spoiler.
On the inside of the new “Core” model, black seating surfaces are really handsome and very comfortable premium “Ballistic” cloth inserts (from the SRT Viper) that are flanked by black “Axel” cloth bolsters and door bolster inserts.
Subtle yet sophisticated matte carbon and piano black accents surround the instrument panel, door bezels and center console.
This 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core model is able (if you drive it in ECO mode) get up to 23 mpg on the highway with 17 mpg around town through the use of an active valve exhaust system that allows the standard Fuel Saver Technology (four-cylinder mode) to engage over a wide rpm range.
Even in ECO mode, the rumble is still there as the active exhaust system, with 2.75-inch straight-through mid and rear mufflers with 4-inch chrome exhaust tips, gives out its distinctive throaty exhaust note under engine load.
Our test car, the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core model, had a delivered sticker price of $45,395.
Our thoughts? One heck of a lot of full-size performance vehicle for all driving enthusiasts at that price. We did not want to give it back.