Just Drive It Mr. Clarkson

Dear Mr. Clarkson,

I've watched the first two episodes of the new season of "Top Gear" - and noticed your less than stellar commentary on American high performance cars. At the end of the second episode you and James May brought up a valid point regarding the "muscle" coming out of Detroit. Maybe the Viper and Shelby Cobra don't have the comfort and smoothness of their import rivals. Having a "beast" that's not easy to drive is nothing new in the auto world, and your argument that we've been making high horsepower - low comfort cars for years is probably true (when compared to BMW, Audi, Nissan, Toyota and others). But there's much, much more coming out of Detroit - and the Chrysler 300SRT8 is the one car I'd encourage you to drive.

Yes, it has power (470hp and 470lb-ft of torque coming from a beautiful 6.4 liter Hemi V8). And the 0-60 time is well under 5 seconds - my personal best was 4.8. Top speed 175mph.

But you've seen this a thousand times, haven't you Mr. Clarkson? Wait until you ride in one. But please set aside your preconceived notions of Chrysler and what's coming out of Auburn Hills.

First thing you'll notice when you get it in: comfort. I'm 6'5" and this car felt as form efficient as anything I've driven. The beautiful napa leather seats and leather details are all first class. The heated seats, steering wheel and comfort package is as good as anything out there.

If you've watched Top Gear, Jeremy is forever tortured by infotainment systems. The Chrysler u-connect system is the easiest system out there (and my personal favorite). Available 900 watt Harman/Kardon sound system is worth the upgrade. I'm a bit of an audiophile, and the clarity is noticeable.

So it's comfortable inside, easy to set up and looks great. How about the drive? This where you've felt American performance cars can't keep up. The first thing you notice with the 300SRT8 is how smooth it is off the line. It's got a lot of power under the hood, but it doesn't force it down your throat.

Managing the ride on 300 SRT8 is a new Adaptive Damping Suspension (ADS), which reads both driver and vehicle inputs (vehicle speed, steering angle, steering speed, brake torque, throttle position and lateral and vertical accelerations) to determine optimal suspension settings for all conditions.

Clear your mind Jeremy and drive this car. Give it an honest drive. As Bob Seger (who we know you love) once said "Turn The Page" and try the 300SRT8. Its a great example of what performance, power and comfort looks and feels like.


Jim O'Brien

I'll still watch Top Gear on BBC America every Monday night.