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Chrysler 300C 3.0 V6 CRD SRT Automatic

Click to view picture gallery“Under new ownership but still with
the big, bold 2010 Chrysler
  300C executive saloon remains a
  quirky but realistic alternative to
  premium brand executive saloons...

RANGES HAVE BEEN REVISED AND MODELS DELETED as Fiat's ownership of the Chrysler Group of brands (Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep) gets under way. The 2010 Chrysler model range now consists of the bold and brash 300C Saloon and Touring and the large Grand Voyager MPV.

To coincide with the marriage of Fiat and Chrysler, I took a journey down memory lane and tried the 300C Saloon in its very latest 2010 guise. The 300C isn't a new product and much of its floorpan, drivetrain and other technical components come from Mercedes-Benz and, in particular, the past Mercedes E-Class executive range.

The 300C Saloon was first launched in 2005 and the Touring in 2006 followed by the launch, in August 2006, of the 168mph SRT-8 Saloon and then, in January 2007, the SRT-8 Touring. In March 2008, the 300C interior received a full makeover while the exterior had minor improvements across the range.

The current 2010 300C model range continues with both the Saloon and Touring versions powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine mated to an automatic gearbox. The high-performance 6.1-litre petrol-engined SRT-8, available on the Saloon, tops the range. The SRT-8 Touring sold out in 2009 and will not be replaced.

The Chrysler 300C Saloon has been, and still is, one of the most striking executive vehicles; well equipped but costing from less than 24,000. When first launched its bold and brash looks and imposing road presence attracted professional footballers, business execs and the business chauffeur operators. At that time it was an interesting alternative to similar models from premium German brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Today it is an idiosyncratic alternative that beats all of them for its attractive pricing. The 300C also makes a very good choice as a roomy, well equipped and durable used car.

The new 2010 300C Saloon range is now offered with four derivatives: the 300C SE, SR and SRT come with an automatic gearbox and a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, while the SRT-8 is coupled with a mighty 6.1-litre V8 HEMI petrol engine. The 2010 300C Touring range offers three trim levels: Base, LUX, and SRT-Design and prices start from 29,495.

“Very comfortable,
exceptionally roomy and
big on style and image —
you will be noticed
The new entry-level diesel Saloon model, 300C SE, is available from just 23,995 on-the-road, and offers a very high level of standard equipment including leather trimmed seats, ESP stability programme, ABS braking, front, rear and side-curtain airbags, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, LED ambient lighting, front fog lamps and front and rear parking sensors, Xenon headlamps, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and 18-inch aluminium wheels. The in-car entertainment system features an AM/FM radio with CD player and MP3 capability and a six-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system.

The fuel-efficient 3.0-litre V6, common-rail diesel CRD engine offers 215bhp at 4,000rpm and a hefty 376lb ft of torque at 1,600rpm. Top speed is 143mph and the 300C can reach 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds.

Moving up the range, the SR version costs 24,995 and in addition to the SE specification SR models feature an auto-dimming rear view mirror, upgraded sound system including subwoofer and Uconnect satellite navigation system, Uconnect phone with voice recognition — a hands-free communication system using Bluetooth technology. Optional extras on the SR are a power sunroof costing 750 and heated rear seats at 250.

The 300C SRT is priced at 27,995 and a real bargain in its executive sector. It offers, in addition to the SR model specification, a Bentley-style mesh grille with chrome surround, body-coloured door mirrors and door handles, wheel arch extensions, 20-inch aluminium wheels, leather-and-suede-trimmed sports seats and carbon-fibre interior detailing.

The top-of-the range performance model, the SRT-8, costs 41,795. Its legendary 6.1-litre, V8 HEMI petrol engine generates 425bhp with 420lb ft of torque. And the rear-wheel drive Chrysler 300C SRT-8 is capable of impressive performance times: 0 to 62mph in just 5.0 seconds with a top of speed of 165mph. No wonder it was the footballers' favourite.

Extra SRT-8 specification includes high-performance Brembo brake callipers, power sunroof and performance tuned steering and suspension making the SRT-8 the ultimate Chrysler 300C and the most affordable Executive performance car in the market place today.

“An idiosyncratic alternative that beats all
of the premium German
executives for its
attractive pricing
While footballers and tax-penalised company execs have moved on to other offerings, with an entry-level price of under 24,000 the 300C should also attract customers from the Ford and Vauxhall brands (Mondeo and Insignia) who are looking for a comprehensively equipped car that stands out from the crowd. For such relatively little money it still offers a great deal.

It might not be the sharpest handling car on our roads but it is very comfortable and exceptionally roomy. And it' big on style and image — drive one and you will be noticed.

Fuel economy is good as well, with my automatic 3.0-litre diesel version returning a very decent 34.3mpg. However, with CO2 emissions of 215g/km the First Year road tax is 550 before dropping back to 245 annually. Benefit-in-Kind company car tax is relatively high at 35 per cent but the retained value for the diesel SRT version, my test car, is quoted by What Car? as 52% for 3-years/36,000 miles.

Going for it is the 300C's attractive pricing, high on-road presence, equipment levels, comfort and roominess and the fact that it offers a quirky but realistic alternative to premium brand executive saloons. Not so good is that it's big and bulky to park, the interior quality is 'old-school', it's not agile to drive and has a foot-operated parking brake.

Now Fiat owns Chrysler It is unlikely that the 300C will be replaced with a like-for-like but more modern version. Motoring times have changed but for now — for some bold people who need a bit of 'bling' in their life — the 300C Saloon should be looked on as a long-term investment to enjoy today and for it to be 'collectable' in the future. — David Miles

Chrysler 300C 3.0 V6 CRD SRT Automatic | 28,995
Maximum speed: 143mph | 0-62mph: 8.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 34.3mpg
Power: 215bhp | Torque: 376lb ft | CO2 215g/km