Much like the legendary Southern US lawman (known to us older folks anyway) featured in the 1973 film ‘Walking Tall’ based on the life of Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser (played by Joe Don Baker), who in real life almost single-handedly cleaned up his small town of crime and corruption, but at a personal cost of his family and nearly his own life, the Dodge Magnum SRT8 carries the biggest stick of all sport wagons. The Magnum SRT8 dressed in Metallic Brilliant Black is a very mean-looking car. It’s a wagon that urges others to get the f@ck out of the way on public roads! Whereas the Chrysler 300C SRT8 still has a more elegant slant, the Magnum SRT8 is designed to be downright menacing. In Europe, the sports wagons are based on the design of the 300C as read in our earlier issues as the Dodge identity in the Old World is still at its infancy. By the end of the 1st quarter of 2007 however, the Philippines will officially be getting the Dodge Magnums but not the SRT8 variant.
Last year we tested the more docile Magnum RT, which is powered by the magnificent 5.7-liter HEMI; it drove very well but there were criticisms about how it resembled a hearse and that it had poor rear visibility. Generally, the visibility was acceptable but some testers insisted that they even felt claustrophobic in the rear seats because of the low roofline and small windows. Still, the Magnum did have the right balance of sport and utility having a true wagon trunk. The striking SRT8 version though just blows me away. The subtle design changes to the front bumper and more aggressive beehive grille, which do have functional improvements, are still consistent with the imposing character of the Magnum. The new front lower fascia helps increase cooling through integrated ducts next to the fog lamps that directly channels air to cool the front brakes. There is also a front air dam which reduces aerodynamic lift, while at the rear, there is an all integrated wake modifier and aggressive cutouts to accommodate the dual 3.5” exhaust tips. The headlights now have body-colored surrounds instead of chrome which also adds to the already butch front end. Unfortunately, there are no factory options for a HID headlight system; it would have completed the looks as well as improve visibility dramatically.
For the Magnum SRT8, the new 6.1-liter SRT version of the legendary HEMI engine matches the legendary ‘Street HEMI’ of the 1960s and 1970s with its monumental 425 bhp rating. SRT powertrain engineers developed 85 more horsepower by adding more cubic inches (3.5mm @ cylinder), increased the compression ratio from 9.6:1 to 10.3: 1, redesigned the cylinder head with larger diameter valves and reshaped ports to allow maximized airflow. They also redesigned the intake and exhaust systems for increased flow with a specially designed intake manifold with larger-diameter and shorter runners for higher-speed tuning, exhaust headers with individual tubes encased in the stainless steel shell, and a new exhaust system with larger diameter piping from 2.5” to 2.75” throughout ending with 3.5” chrome tips. To further increase horsepower, performance-oriented camshaft profiles were developed to allow more air in and out of the cylinders, as well as manage a higher engine speed. The intake and exhaust valve stems are now hollow, and the exhaust valve stems are filled with sodium to help dissipate heat more efficiently.
The high-performance SRT 6.1-liter HEMI is strengthened with redesigned components, including a reinforced engine block, forged steel crankshaft, high-strength powdered-metal connecting rods, floating-pin pistons cooled by oil injectors, and an oil pan modified to manage oil return to the pan sump at high engine speeds. The A580 five-speed Autostick® automatic transmission was recalibrated to handle the more brutal power and the differential and axle have also been upgraded appropriately. The chassis had to also be engineered for its new high-performance duty with SRT-tuned Bilstein dampers, specially tailored spring rates and suspension bushings, and larger diameter anti-sway bars. The ride height of the Magnum SRT8 sits .5” lower than the standard Dodge Magnum, while the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) has been specially recalibrated for the SRT8’s more exciting driving dynamics.
The Magnum SRT8 comes with beautiful uniquely designed 5-spoke 20”x 9” lightweight forged aluminum wheels shod with high-performance asymmetrical Goodyear F1 three-season tires 245/45/20 in the front, and slightly wider 255/45/20 in the rear. I wonder how good these wheels will look and perform on a 300C HEMI, hmm. Peeking out of these great looking wheels are rigid tastefully colored red aluminum Brembo 4-spot brake calipers clamping on 14.17” vented discs up front and 13.78” vented discs in the rear. Inside, the Magnum SRT8 features power-adjustable, deeply sculpted and highly bolstered sports seats in the front complete with performance suede inserts and contrasting red stitching to keep you fully secured and comfortable during aggressive driving. The steering wheel uses a special carbon-fiber patterned leather finish for a better grip matching the center console. The instrument dials also have a unique SRT design treatment that features a slightly optimistic 180-mph (300 km/h) speedometer. The Boston Acoustic 276 watt 6-speaker audio system sounds good but lacks the range and depth of the systems offered in the Chrysler 300C saloons.
Since I had the Magnum SRT8 only for a couple of days, I did not concern myself with fuel economy but instead concentrated on having the most fun that I could have, my friends, let me emphasize: this is a VERY entertaining beast that enjoys the flogging like the very best of them. The Achilles’ heel once again on this platform is the inconsistent damping but it did handle surprisingly better by a small margin than the 300C SRT8. Still, for the money, it’s unbelievable.
|Engine||V8, 6059 cc, ohv 16V, Multi-Point Injection, HEMI, 5-Speed AT|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||425 bhp @ 6200 rpm|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||420 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm|
|Top Speed||275 km/h (172 mph)|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||5.3 sec|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||14 mpg City / 20 mpg Highway|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||(2006) US$ 41,400.00|
|What's Great||Very unique, potent, characterful, fun to drive.|
|What's Not So||Fuel economy, missing some key equipment.|
|C! Editors Rating||9.5/10|