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Click to view road test review picture galleryThe all-American
  ‘swank tank’ moseys
  on into town...
  Revised for 2008,
  Chrysler’s imposing
  300C — whether in
  Saloon or Touring
  guise — makes quite
  an impact.”

ONE MODEL HAS, MORE THAN ANY OTHER, done more to raise the profile of the Chrysler brand in the UK. And that is the 300C, which was launched in saloon form in October 2005.

This was followed by, in April 2006, the 300C Touring estate; in
August 2006 the 168mph SRT-8 Saloon and, in January 2007, the
SRT-8 Touring.

More than 6,000 Saloon and Touring estate 300C vehicles have been sold in the UK since October 2005, two-thirds of which are Saloons. Simon Elliott, managing director of Chrysler UK, happily admits the boldly-styled 300C model range has been a huge success for the brand and they are in the enviable position of sales outstripping supply. In fact it has been generally praised by the motoring media as one of the most striking executive class vehicles on the road, with bargain prices starting at 27,495.

The next chapter in the 300C story now starts, with the introduction
in March of the revised 2008 model year vehicles. The 3.0 V6 CRD turbodiesel Saloon and Touring continue, as does the 425bhp 6.1-litre Hemi V8-powered SRT-8 Saloon — although the SRT-8 Touring has been dropped from the range.

However, for some customers, the exciting news is that two additional variants are added: the 3.0 V6 CRD SRT Design Saloon and Touring. Incidentally, all models in the revised 300C range have an automatic transmission.

By mixing the fuel-efficient 3.0-litre 218bhp (Saloon) or 215bhp (Touring) diesel engines with SRT styling, customers get the best of both worlds: fuel efficiency and bold, in-your-face sports styling. Prices for the revised range start at 27,495 and rise to 40,995 for the V8 Hemi SRT-8 Saloon. The two new additions, the SRT-Design Saloon and the SRT-Design Touring cost, respectively, 32,494 and 33,245.

SRT-Design models utilise the range-standard 3.0-litre V6 215/218bhp, 376lb ft diesel engine but feature 20-inch alloy wheels, wheel-arch spats, a Bentley-style chrome mesh grille, MyGIG satellite navigation system, SRT sports steering wheel, SRT sports leather seats and carbon-fibre interior details.

All 300C models for 2008 receive changes in the form of new rear light clusters. Saloons have an integrated boot spoiler and high-mounted rear stop light. Inside, changes include a new instrument panel and centre console design, soft-touch trim surfaces — the previous light interior trim colours are replaced with more up-market darker tones. Other changes include a one-touch start button, fully-adjustable steering wheel and LED lighting in the front cup holders and front and rear door pockets. Safety features are also improved, with seat-mounted airbags in addition to the front and side curtain airbags.

Even the 'bottom' of the range 300C is well kitted out as standard, with leather trimmed seats, self-levelling suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights, metallic paint and rear park assist.

Steve Mirfin, Chrysler's product executive, said that, as before, the 300C leads the executive sector for style and value for money. Com-pared to such saloon/estate competitor models as the BMW 530d SE, Audi A6 2.7 TDI SE, Mercedes E280 CDI Elegance, Volvo S80 D5 SE
and Saab 9-5 1.9 TiD Vector Sport, Chrysler's 300C (with price adjust-ment for specification) represents from 10 to 30.9 per cent better value for money.

Chrysler expects the new SRT Design variants to account for 40 per cent of all 300C Saloon sales, and around 25 per cent of Touring registrations. Traditionally, 60 per cent of UK 300C customers are retail buyers and 40 per cent are professional people who own their own businesses.

Like the brash all-American design or not, you have to agree that the 300C makes a huge visual impact on our UK roads. It is bought by 'big' people: big in business; with a big social image; or big egos. And there's nothing wrong with that.

So, from your professional footballer — who has an image to live up
to — or the close-to-retirement businessman who likes to have a 'nice' car in the golf club car park, the 300C enjoys a strong following.

The additional SRT Design models with the diesel engine should in-crease sales overall because — for the price, the specification and
the even more bold and glitzy looks — there really is nothing quite
like it on our roads.

With prices starting at 27,495 and rising to 33,245 for the main-selling models, the 300C's value-for-money in this executive segment cannot be beaten. Forget the 40,995 for the 6.1-litre V8 Hemi
petrol Saloon — this will only account for a very small number of sales. Step forward professional 'mine's bigger than yours' footballers...

For the record, the main-selling 3.0 CRD V6 215/218bhp (Touring/ Saloon) diesel-engined models — which both have a torque output of 376lb ft — have an average fuel economy of 34.9mpg. On my pre-launch test drive I averaged 26.5mpg. The all-important CO2 emissions are 215g/km, putting them in road tax band F which costs 205 a year. This level also falls well below the new London Congestion Charge
(from October this year) of 25 a day.

Just the record, the 6.1-litre V8 Hemi petrol engine produces 425bhp and 420lb ft, returns 20.2mpg and has CO2 emissions of 330g/km. This means a road tax bill of 400 a year from April and, of course, tops ups Ken Livingstone's London coffers (from next October) to the tune of 25 a day.

As the CRD turbodiesel engine and five-speed automatic transmission are sourced from Chrysler's 20 per cent partner Daimler (better known as Mercedes Benz), there is nothing wrong with the power, engine refinement and smooth operation of the gearbox. It is exactly what executive car owners want — relaxed sophistication.

The ride quality is on the soft side and obviously set up for comfort, which is fine on the open roads and motorways. Try to hustle the
five-metre long, 2.4-tonne car along winding roads and it is prone to 'rocking and rolling'. But it's fun.

The interior quality seems much improved. Gone are the garish light-tone colours for the trim, replaced with the darker, more subtle tones preferred by us 'Brits'. As mentioned, the ride can be spongy and the handling vague if you're pushing on — but then that's not the way
you'll drive on of these. If you don't have a plane to catch then you'll appreciate the room, the palpably executive specification, the relaxed and comfortable driving, the value for money and the big image and striking good looks. Externally, with its huge and imposing stance, big wheels and lots of chrome, the latest 300C makes quite an impact. Like it or not, you will definitely have to take notice of it. — David Miles

Chrysler 300C Saloon 3.0 V6 CRD SRT-Design | 32,495
Maximum speed: 143mph | 0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
Overall test MPG: 26.5mpg | Power: 218bhp | Torque: 376lb ft

CO2 215g/km

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