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Chrysler 300C 3.0 CRD V6 Executive

Click to view picture gallery“Beware the 300C. Like the aftermath
  of a vampire attack, one bite of
  this charismatic American saloon
  and it gets in your blood
...


ITS USP and appeal is that it doesn't look like anything else on British roads. With its clean-cut styling, coupe-ish 'chopped' glasshouse with 'letterbox' windows and Bentley-matching presence (the bonnet sits level with your waist), it's deliciously menacing. Or maybe it's just the Italian connection Chrysler is now part of the Fiat-Chrysler Group and those Italians, well, they know a thing or two about style.

Finished in a tri-coat white pearlescent paint and rolling on 20-inch polished-face alloy wheels, this sized-for-Texas saloon draws looks; everywhere you go, people double-take. Get used to it.

The first generation 300C offered automotive sybarites the chance to drive a big luxury saloon for less than they'd pay for a lesser specced but more ubiquitous set of wheels from the thoroughbred German stables of Mercedes, Audi and BMW. This latest second-generation 300C has taken the baton and run with it. It's far more polished, dynamically and stylistically; from the broad-winged Chrysler emblem crowning the platinum-chrome horizontally slatted grille to the cleanly-hewn boot.

“This latest second-
generation 300C is far
more polished, both
dynamically and
stylistically; from the
broad-winged Chrysler
emblem crowning the
platinum-chrome
horizontally slatted grille
to its cleanly-hewn
boot
...”
Big on the outside — it's wider and taller than a Mercedes S Class (and just 30mm shorter) although the 300C has a longer wheelbase — the inside reminds you of that old saying about there being 'enough room to swing a cat'. You could… but you wouldn't.

Not many millimetres of the outer dimensions have been wasted: all the seats ('armchairs' is, perhaps, a more accurate description) are surrounded by enough space for even grande Americanos to stretch out — good news given that there are now, officially, 1 billion overweight adults plus a further 475 million clinically obese people in the world: that's more than the entire population of China (1.349 billion).

The driver is particularly well attended, with a 10-way adjustable powered seat as well as 'comfort' entry and exit: the seat moves back as the wheel goes up to make getting out and back in again ultra-easy; not that it's hard without this facility because the large door opens to almost 90 degrees. The driving position is spot-on and you just press the Start button on the fascia to fire-up (starting is keyless, as too is locking and unlocking). There's also a heated steering wheel — if you haven't tried one before you can take it from us that it's unbeatable on a chilly morning or long winter drive.

Both front seats are powered with heating and cooling depending on the season. Both also feature powered lumbar adjustment — in and out as well as up and down. Door mirrors are powerfold on demand with one-shot powered windows and the rear-view mirror is auto dimming (helpfully it doesn't dim when reversing). Door mirrors also dim automatically and in sync with the rear-view mirror. A two-settings memory feature recalls your personalised seat, wheel and door mirror positions.

There's no traditional handbrake to clutter up the centre console; instead your left foot gets an American-style parking brake. While not expected on this side of the Pond, it's nevertheless easy to use and works smoothly.

With so many 'toys' to operate you'd expect the cabin to be littered with switches and buttons. Thankfully it's not: for a start there's just one column stalk on the left that works the wipers, washers, flash/dip and indicators. Surprisingly, you adjust in just one spell behind the wheel.

The good news is that many of the high-end toys (such as the heated steering wheel, power rear sun/privacy blind, heated/cooled seats) are controlled by soft-key 'buttons' on the touchscreen display that also serves the SatNav and multimedia features as well as the reversing camera.

“There’s no traditional
handbrake to clutter up
the centre console;
instead your left foot
gets an American-style
parking brake.
While not expected on
this side of the Pond,
it’s nevertheless easy
to use and
works smoothly
...”
For the record, the large screen display is superb, with 3D mapping and excellent colours and clarity. Especially helpful is the digital speed displayed on the map screen alongside the posted speed limit: when you're under the limit your road speed is coloured black; when over the limit, it's red. There's also a digital speed readout right in front of your eyes in the driver's information 'centre' between the analogue speedo and rev-counter.

Also keeping things orderly is the multifunction steering wheel which, in addition to remote controls for voice, phone and adaptive cruise control has, on the back of the horizontal spokes, rocker switches for the audio and volume. There are also neat 'use 'em anytime' paddle-shifters: left for going down the ratios; right to go up.

The cabin is well trimmed with real wood and chrome highlights, plenty of soft-touch plastics and leather covering almost every surface, including the leather wrapped dash and centre console. The dials are illuminated day and night with a gorgeous pale blue luminescent glow. A large (8.4-inch) touchscreen display dominates the fascia and integrated centre stack.

The list of standard kit is comprehensive. Cupholders are today commonplace — but not those in the 300C, which can be cabin temperature, heated or chilled to keep your coffee hot or your soda cold. The top Executive trim is lavishly equipped with Nappa leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic lights 'n' wipes, touchscreen infotainment system (with a 506W amplifier, nine speakers and a subwoofer), Garmin SatNav, digital radio, Bluetooth with voice command, powered rear screen blind, Keyless Entry & Go, steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles, luxury floor mats, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera along with front and rear park assist, and a dual-pane sunroof with sunshade.

The twin sunroof floods the cabin with light — if that's what you want; a powered (naturally) sun blind blocks out the rays at the touch of a one-shot button. The rear panel is fixed but the front slides open or tilts. Also doing a good job of keeping the glare out of your eyes are the sun visors which also extend inwards to cover the spot most other visors miss: either side of the rear view mirror.

Externally there's a set of 20-inch alloy wheels with polished spoke faces, and platinum chrome finishing to, amongst other things, the door handles, grille, and mirror housings — and all very tastefully done. Safety equipment includes seven airbags, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, active pedestrian protection, and adaptive bi-xenon HID headlamps.

“Those travelling in the
back of the 300C enjoy
limo-like refinement —
and privacy: the glazing
surrounding the rear
cabin is all darkly tinted
and the powered rear
blind is as effective
thwarting the paparazzi
as it is blocking
out the sun
...”
The rear cabin is the give-away that the 300C's wheelbase is longer than that found in a S-Class Mercedes-Benz. While you're thinking on that, don't forget that the 300C only costs between £36K (Limited) and £40K (Executive). As with the Merc, you'll be getting a genuine full-sized executive saloon — however, the entry model in the S-Class range costs over £61K.

Those travelling in the back of the 300C enjoy limo-like space and refinement — and privacy: the glazing surrounding the rear cabin is all darkly tinted and that one-shot powered rear screen blind is as effective thwarting the paparazzi as it is blocking out the sun.

For long journeys just pull down the big, wide padded centre armrest, tell your driver to set the radar cruise control, then laze back, cocooned in the 300C's refinement (even the massive 245 section 20-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres run quietly) and watch the miles glide past. If it's cold, both outer rear passengers can quickly get cosy thanks to the two-stage heated seats

If you're a parent, the rear seat is also wide enough to offer three sets of Isofix anchorages side-by-side. South of the rear cabin is a big boot: 481 litres with a luggage net and a pair of bag hooks each side. The boot floor lifts (and latches in place) to make accessing the space-saver spare wheel straightforward.

There's even an extension filler spout in case you ever need to top up the tank from a can! A thick reversible overmat covers you for any 'dirty' work, while the back 60:40 split seatbacks fold forwards to give you extra luggage space, extending the 40-inch long boot (it's 56 inches wide) and providing an additional 26 inches of length.

The double-edged sword of large, long cars is parking them: no such problem with the 300C though, thanks to clearly defined corners and the ParkView reversing camera.

When it comes to deciding what goes under the bonnet, Chrysler has already done your homework for you — and narrowed it down to one engine: a 236bhp 3.0-litre diesel mated to a five-speed auto 'box. It never feels short of oomph, this V6, thanks to the hefty 399lb ft of torque generated between 1,600 and 2,800rpm; flex your right ankle and there's a rumble as it comes alive.

Press down hard and it propels you up the road very purposefully, shifting smoothly through the gears to post a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds. Use the paddle-shifters and you'll be rewarded with max power whenever you need it. The top speed, at 144mph, should be fast enough for anyone.

“Despite its imposing
proportions, driving in
the asphalt jungle
is not at all unnerving
thanks to the fine all-
round visibility.
Plus it steers okay and
it rides well over most
surfaces, with no
issues over
speed bumps
...”
Asked to hazard a guess as to its thirst for fuel, and going by its size and two-tonne kerb weight, most would pitch a figure in the low-twenties.

Actually, the official combined figure is a shade under 40mpg (39.2, to be precise), but a week's hard driving taking in fast-running motorways and quite a bit of busy town work saw 31.1mpg. At that rate the tank holds enough for around 500 miles between fill-ups.

Despite its imposing proportions, driving in the asphalt jungle is not at all unnerving thanks to the fine all-round visibility. Plus it steers okay and it rides well over most surfaces, with no issues over speed bumps.

On the open road the 300C is composed and unruffled — a very relaxing car to drive. Like BMWs, its power meets the road through the rear wheels, which helps when putting all the 300C's not inconsiderable mass through bends and corners. It's certainly no put-down to say that its real forte is its refined and laid-back cruising ability.

When you need them to kill speed, the brakes are first rate. In town they're smoothly progressive. Along with tyre pressure monitoring, the brakes are automatically prepped for action if the system detects an emergency stop might be called for; it also dries the discs in wet weather to ensure optimum braking.

We were truly sorry to see 'our' 300C go back — always a sure sign that the car on test would make a fine long term companion. At £40K you certainly get a lot of car (and a heck of a lot of luxury kit) for your money. The 300C is also hospitable in a genuine American way. The bottom line: we'd buy one tomorrow! — MotorBar


Chrysler 300C 3.0 CRD V6 Executive | £39,995
Maximum speed: 144mph | 0-62mph: 7.4 seconds | Overall test MPG: 29mpg
Power: 236bhp | Torque: 399lb ft | CO2 191g/km