Chrysler is injecting new enthusiasm – and not to forget American muscle – into the large sedan segment with the launch of the all-new 300 range. Featuring impressive standard luxury and technology (including an eight-speed automatic transmission), V6 petrol and diesel engines, plus the rip-snorting SRT 6.4-litre V8, the all-new Chrysler 300 lineup challenges its rivals on all fronts.
Value gets a green tick with prices starting from $43,000, while the $66,000 SRT V8 throws down the gauntlet to HSV and FPV.
2012 Chrysler 300 Overview
The full lineup is:
V6 Petrol V6 Diesel V8
300 Limited $43,000 $48,000
300C $46,500 $51,500
300C Luxury $51,000 $56,000
300 SRT8 $66,000
2012 Chrysler 300 Engine
Major changes under the bonnet for the all-new Chrysler 300, headlined by the all-new 3.6-litre Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine. A 60-degree V6 with double overhead camshafts, the all-new V6 delivers 210kW at 6350rpm and peak torque of 349Nm at 4650rpm.
The 3.0-litre 3.0-litre quad-cam V6 diesel is sourced from Chrysler parent Fiat and comes from VM Motori in Italy. Driving through a five-speed automatic transmission, the Chrysler 300 diesel delivers 176kW at 4000rpm and peal torque of 550Nm from 1800rpm.
The racy Chrysler 300 SRT8 switches to the all-new 6.4-litre Hemi V8 which Chrysler claims to be one of the world’s most powerful naturally-aspirated V8s with 347kW at 6100rpm and peak torque of 631Nm at 4150rpm. In comparison to the previous V8, just about everything has been changed – bore, stroke, camshaft, alloy cylinder heads, compression, intake and exhaust systems.
Also new for the latest Hemi V8 are dual ignition and a double dose of fuel economy – ‘Fuel Saver Technology’ (four cylinder deactivation under light acceleration) and interactive decel fuel shut-off (iDFSO) which shuts off fuel flow on deceleration (iDFSO is also fitted to Chrysler 300 V6 petrol).
Turning to fuel economy, you can chalk-up 6.7l/100kms for the all-new 3.6-litre V6 petrol and 13.0l/100kms for the all-new 6.4-litre V8, while the 3.0-litre diesel gets as low as 5.7l/100kms.
The other big news under the bonnet is the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission – as used by Audi, BMW, Range Rover and Rolls Royce – fitted standard to V6 petrol model Chrysler 300s and the first eight-speeder in Australia in a vehicle stickered under $70,000. Weighing just three kilos more than the previous five-speed auto, the eight-speeder is fully electronic with adaptive shifting software and Sport manual mode.
2012 Chrysler 300 The Interior
Like all American vehicles, the all-new Chrysler 300 doesn’t skip on interior space – in fact it challenges the likes of Commodore and Falcon in that department. For the all-new model you can also add abundant style and luxury inclusions.
Immediately noticeable are the glamorous sapphire blue instruments and stylish dashboard materials. All models run eight-way power adjustment for the heated front seats which (depending on the model) are trimmed in flat weave fabric or real Nappa leather.
Combined with electronic rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel (a different version for all models, all leather-wrapped) the driving position is excellent.
In the rear there’s lots of legroom and all models except the entry-level 300 Limited feature heating for the rear seats.
Headlining the UConnect multimedia audio system is a 19-speaker, 900-watt system with 8.4-inch touchscreen which is standard in Chrysler 300C Luxury and SRT8 models.
And of course there’s plenty of luxury throughout including for example available heated cup-holders…well you need a hot coffee on these frosty mornings!
Luggage space is a handy 462-litres.
2012 Chrysler 300 Exterior & Styling
Styling continues the head-turning theme of the Chrysler 300 – but with a twist. There’s the same dramatic proportions (high hips, small windows) but for the all-new model Chrysler has added an extra side window which delivers 15 per-cent more glass for improved visibility.
Overall the all-new Chrysler 300 is tad more elegant and sophisticated with nice details like rolled frame doors (providing thinner pillars and smaller gaps), a larger windscreen and improved aerodynamics thanks to curved edges, underbody panels and even aero wheel well liners.
The rear-end is a major change and features LED lights while the front features a more aerodynamic look with the hallmark Chrysler grille and four headlights now affording noticeable curves.
The dramatic wheel theme continues to inject real muscle into the Chrysler 300 – standard 18-inch or 20-inch designs in silver or black (depending on the model).
And how about this? An electronic fuel cap means you don’t need to unlock/unscrew manually at the bowser – clever.
2012 Chrysler 300 On The Road
Car Showroom went straight to the top for the media launch drive program at the Phillip Island race circuit and surrounding roads out through Archies Creek – a sporty SRT8. Ah, just a light stab of the throttle brought the 6.4-litre V8 to life…and all is good in the world (well we have been driving a lot of small hatchbacks lately!).
Chrysler’s V8 is a gem and even hardened HSV and FPV enthusiasts will love this one.
Over the twists and curves (and later on the streaming wet race circuit) we found the steering wheel paddle shifters to be placed just right on the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel for sporty manual cog-swapping. The chassis was impressive too, making a mockery of the 2.0-tonne V8 with a lively feel and balance which will be appreciated by enthusiast drivers.
Next-up was a diesel Chrysler 300. Impressively quiet and refined, the V6 common rail direct injection diesel got the job done with its abundant torque propelling the 300 smoothly. Hard to pick any changes in the chassis dynamics despite the different weight under the bonnet.
A special mention for our high-speed runs around the Phillip Island race circuit in an SRT8. Despite the wet conditions, the sporty Chrysler 300 model was a delight with superb balance instantly available thanks to the impressive V8 and slick suspension set-up – HSV and FPV should get one of these cars for a test drive.
2012 Chrysler 300 Challenges
In full automatic mode, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 was a tad slow to downchange when accelerating out of corners – but brilliant when changing gears manually.
2012 Chrysler 300 Verdict
We rate the all-new Chrysler 300 as a Car Showroom favourite in the full-size sedan segment. In every model grade, you get a lot of car for your cash with the all-new 300 which certainly challenges all-comers in the value-for-money stakes.
And we like the American look and feel, particularly inside – it stands out from the crowd of domestic, Asian and European cars. Chrysler scores big points with the extra sophistication and style the all-new model brings.
2012 Chrysler 300 The Competition
Across the range, Chrysler 300 is generously equipped, so for example the base model 300 Limited stacks up very well against say the Ford Falcon G6 ($40,835) and Holden Commodore SV6 ($42,790).
At the other end of the scale, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 ($66,000) should definitely be on the shopping list for FPV and HSV buyers. Chrysler’s sophisticated interior and list of standard inclusions lave the locals looking a tad bland.
And of course the value proposition of the Chrysler 300 certainly challenges the large European sedans.