THE second-generation Chrysler 300 is six years old this year – retirement age for most cars. So why, then, has Chrysler bolted a set of Dodge Demon wheels and tyres to the hubs of this otherwise very standard-looking 300 SRT?
Spied in a Michigan carpark, this mule’s manufacturer plates indicate it’s not just somebody’s privately modified 2017 300 SRT – indeed, with the Chrysler 300 SRT having being discontinued in the USA back in 2015, Fiat-Chrysler is the only possible owner.
The spy photographers who snapped this car and tailed it along a highway swear the exhaust note indicated the presence of Chrysler’s supercharged 527kW 6.2-litre Hellcat engine under the bonnet, but that’s no guarantee of a force-fed V8 super-sedan heading our way any time soon.
For starters, this could be a disguised development mule for the next-generation 300, and slapping on the Demon wheels and tyres simply an easy way of simulating a planned increase in track width. That said given the current 300 measures an already-girthy 1908mm wide, this theory relies on the 300’s successor swelling to truly gargantuan proportions.
Another theory is that a completely different model sharing a similar wheelbase to the 300 lurks beneath. If you want to road test a hotly-anticipated performance model on public roads without raising eyebrows, what better way than to hide in plain sight than under the bodyshell of another car?
However, the interior appears to be standard Chrysler 300 fare. Hacked-up development mules usually wear plenty of interior camouflage to disguise the various joins and prototype systems being tested, but this car doesn’t appear to have any of that.
We can’t discount the possibility that this is in fact a Hellcat-engined 300 SRT, with a wild wheel and tyre package that should, eventually, be covered up by some equally out-there fender flares. With the current 300 approaching the end of its life, Chrysler may be preparing to send it off with a 527kW bang after all.
If it eventuates, will it come our way? Unlike our American cousins we currently enjoy the 300 SRT’s V8 delights (a model that accounted for 60 percent of local Chrysler 300 sales in 2016), but the other key market for that car is the Middle East. This prototype is left-hand drive too – had the steering wheel been on the right, that would have been the ‘smoking gun’.
But there’s still hope. The Hellcat-engined Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk is already getting ready to roll into Aussie showrooms – proof that the Hellcat donk can be engineered to fit around a right-hand drive application. Australians also have a frothing addiction to performance cars, so a 527kW Chrysler should be an easy sell on our shores – especially as the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is likely to sell out before it even arrives.
Fiat Chrysler Australia is keeping understandably quiet on the subject of a 300 SRT Hellcat, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.