Put their window stickers next to one another and these cars appear almost exactly the same. Same 6.4L V8s making 470HP/470ft-lbs. Same 8-year old paddle-shifted 5-speed automatic transmission. Same brakes, Eagle F1 summer tires, length (200”), and MPG (17/23).
The differences are small: The Charger has sporty coil-overs, while the 300 has smart electro-magnetic units, letting you choose a range of settings from cruising-on-a-cloud to grounded track attack. Weight is separated by an Olson twin (the 300 is the heavier, 4,390lbs vs. 4,305lbs).
But as anyone knows, sibling doesn’t mean twin, and even twins can be wildly different.
Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee
The Super Bee is a bit cheaper, starting at $43,450, but it should be; built to go fast, it lost heavy gadgets and screens for speed. No leather, light suspension, A/C is an option. Even without the Super Bee yellow, the Charger’s body language is loud.
The Charger’s face (and performance) suits its name. It to 60MPh a tick ahead of it’s big brother (4.2 seconds to 4.4), and felt lower, smaller, and lighter around the race track. Point the nose and it sticks, the wheel telling for how long. Drifts are easy thanks to the long wheel-base. It felt like a longer version of the 335is I drove the same day. I would like a newer, faster transmission, and the sound insulation is almost too good for something so fun, but more mature drivers will find it perfect. Altogether a great machine for serious driving, and if you get the regular SRT8 with the diamond-pattern suede, it’s a gorgeous place to sit.
Chrysler 300 SRT8
Same tires, engine, brakes, size; should be the same right? Almost. Our 300 tester (which starts at $48,995) was $55k, but it has that computer-controlled mood changer. That money also gives you power leather seats, a sunroof, and more restrained looks that are still zoot suit cool.
It feels different too. Or, rather, it feels less. Where the Charger tells you everything it’s doing in a corner, and feels smaller with each lap, the 300 feels big, and a bit numb. I felt like I was riding in a fast car rather than driving it. Grip, speed, and stopping power? Yes, absolutely. The data between them is near identical, so the performance is definitely there; it’s in the feel where the separation lies. Think M3 compared to M5.
But if you aren’t a track junkie, and want something that consumes highways like a Dyson does dust, this is what you want. Change the suspension like a volume knob for your spine. Tall gearing keeps engine noise down, and it’s exterior won’t draw as much attention. It’s the Charger with a layer of leather and maturity like a black belt that doesn’t announce it.
Blindfold a German in either car and he’ll tell the police he was kidnapped in a super sedan from his homeland, a compliment. These are performance cars that we would happily drive for thousands of miles (if gas were free, or we made more money).
The Charger speaks to you through the wheel and to the world with its face, prowling through traffic, taut and ready.
The 300 is just a panther to the Super Bee’s tiger: equally lethal, without all the stripes.