Into this eco-minded age of milquetoast hybrid and electric vehicles, the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 comes roaring back to life sporting a honking-big V-8 engine and a serious case of nose-thumbing attitude.

Consider this big family sedan a 21-gun salute to a bygone era when full-size North American family sedans could be optioned with a surplus of tire-smoking grunt that made its normally buttoned-down drivers smile gleefully from ear to ear while the neighbours simply ran for cover.

The Charger is no anomaly, but part of a family of SRT8-branded vehicles for the 2012 model year that also includes the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Jeep Grand Cherokee. They form what is one of the widest arrays of all-out performance machinery available anywhere.

Compared to the previous SRT8, this one bares its teeth in a more menacing fashion.

 

The basic Charger underwent a 2011 refit that gave it a sleeker and more aggressive look, improved road manners and a new base V-6.

The SRT8 expands on this theme.

Needless to say, the $54,000 (estimated) SRT8’s performance and creature comforts would amaze its Hemi Charger ancestors.

That a car like this even exists in this day and age is perhaps the most amazing fact of all.

Monster engine

The Dodge Charger SRT8’s potency has been significantly enhanced for 2012.

The previous 2010 SRT8 (a 2011 version was never offered) generated 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque from a 6.1-litre “Hemi” V-8.

What’s now being served up is a 6.4-litre Hemi that produces 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.

What’s more, a significant amount of that torque kicks in below the 3,000-r.p.m. range to help enhance the car’s off-the-line scoot.

Hustle and (gas) flow

The SRT’s development team will brag that the chunky 1,985-kilogram Charger can hustle to 60 m.p.h. (96 km/h) from a dead stop in “the high four-second range” and is capable of a 280 km/h top speed.

To try to keep the SRT8’s premium-gas habit within an acceptable range, the engine uses Chrysler’s latest deactivation technology that cuts out half the cylinders over a wider r.p.m. range for an estimated 25 per cent increase in highway fuel economy (8.0 l/100 km, est.).

Brembo brakes

Perhaps the most obvious SRT8 feature is its very distinctive 20-inch (and nine-inch-wide) polished aluminum wheels that really set this beast apart from mainstream Chargers.

To haul the big, bad Dodge down in a hurry, there are front and rear Brembo-brand four-piston brake calipers and a special underbody ducting that help keep the brakes cooler and more fade-resistant.

What you should know about the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8:


  • Types: Four-door, rear-wheel-drive full-size sedan.

  • Engine (hp):?6.4-litre OHV V-8 (470).

  • Transmission:?Five-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

  • Mileage: L/100 km (city/hwy) 15.0/8.0 (est.).

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