Chrysler's new distributor has decided to make a big impression with Kiwis - and you can't get any bigger than the 300 SRT Core sedan.
Now under Fiat Chrysler New Zealand's management, the standard 300 still looks like a Bentley Mulsanne's love child but the SRT Core adds American muscle car DNA thanks to what's under the bonnet and on its wheels.
Priced from $74,990, the top-of-the-range 300 sedan has a stonking 6.4-litre, V8 Hemi engine under the bonnet, sits on 20in alloys (that had other drivers leaning out of car windows to check them out) and is badged with the exclusive Street and Racing Technology (SRT) label.
The 300 SRT Core is a large sedan with a length of 5089mm (23mm longer than the base model), 1905mm wide and, on the 20in tyres, 1478mm high; and with the C-shaped, Europe-inspired LED front lights, it unashamedly yells, "yo, yo, look at me".
If you owned the car you'd better get used to attracting attention. During Driven's week-long test, the most frequent question asked was, "what is that car?".
And while the 300 SRT Core is visually appealing, it's that Hemi V8 engine that will attract New Zealand buyers - the crazy 347kW, 637Nm engine hits 100km/h in less than five seconds with a top speed of 280km/h. The engine has been updated with an electronic throttle control system; aluminium cylinder heads with hemispherical (hence the name Hemi) combustion chambers that produce high power and torque dual, to improve torque while reducing exhaust emissions.
With petrol prices in New Zealand now on the rise, the Hemi V8 thankfully includes fuel saver technology that improves fuel economy from 5 to 20 per cent, depending on driving conditions.
Manufacturer stats give the V8 an urban cycle consumption of 20.4l/100km, a combined cycle of 13l/100km, and CO2 emissions of 303g/km. I easily "beat" those fuel consumption figures, and that was just driving my normal weekly routes, so had to top up the fuel tank.
The engine features an interactive deceleration fuel shut-off that turns off the flow of fuel during vehicle deceleration.
The temptation to blast the V8 engine whenever I could was at my detriment during a torrential downpour while on Auckland's motorway during morning rush hour. I had moved into a clear lane, after pottering along at 30km/h, and accelerated, only to have the 20in tyres hit an oil patch and the big beast lurched from side to side across the lane - reminding me of its immense power. I took my foot off the go pedal and far away from the brake, and steered the car straight ahead - though my passenger was still shaking a few minutes later.
The engine was paired with the five-speed AutoStick (manual and auto combine) transmission with steering wheel paddles but quickly sat in fifth gear by itself. When I used the paddles to move gear manually the engine was quick to remind me to move ahead faster.
Inside it has cloth sports seats that were so high you couldn't see the top of my head, an 8.4in touch screen infotainment system plus a six-speaker 276W sound system.
The dash had European-inspired styling and there was plenty of room for three adult passengers on the rear seat.
The boot - in memory of another famous American, James Gandolfini, aka Tony Soprano - would have room for three bodies!
And having spent Christmas in The Soprano's neighbourhood, I could see the hardcore SRT Core sedan hitting New Jersey streets and turning heads there.