‘American Icon’, ‘Gangster Wheels’…when it comes to the 300, Chrysler has heard it all. Well, the all-new Chrysler 300 is here, it’s matured and looks…well, elegant and contemporary really.
Best of all, the all-new Chrysler 300 is very sharply priced, from $43,000 as Chrysler Australia continues to challenge rival brands in every segment where it sells vehicles.
Chrysler 300C Overview
The second-generation Chrysler 300 debuted mid-year. An all-new model with much improved driving dynamics - courtesy of a much improved chassis - the Chrysler 300 is a full-size sedan with plenty of space inside which competes with the likes of Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon.
Apart from its head-turning looks (although now more refined and elegant that the previous model), the Chrysler 300 challenges its locally-made rivals with abundant interior luxury, extensive standard features and an eight-speed automatic transmission. And get this – the Chrysler 300’s 3.6-litre V6 is more fuel efficient than both Commodore and Falcon.
Car Showroom tested the mid-grade Chrysler 300C V6 which retails at $46,500. Entry to the 300C range is the 300 Limited ($43,000) while further upscale is the 300C Luxury ($51,000) and the racy 6.4-litre V8 SRT8. Chrysler also offers the 300 with a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel priced from $48,000.
Chrysler 300C Engine
Our test car was powered by Chrysler’s new Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 which has just been named – again – one of Wards’ Top 10 World’s Best Engines. It’s a 60-degree V6 with dual overhead camshafts.
Maximum power is 210kW at 6350rpm and peak torque of 340Nm arrives at 4650rpm. Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 9.4l/100kms – that’s better than rival Commodore and Falcon sixes.
And – here’s a first in this league – the Chrysler 300C drives the rear wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
Chrysler 300C The Interior
The elegance and luxury inside is where the Chrysler 300C really stamps its mark over rival full-size sedans. ‘Soft touch surfaces’ are a current automotive industry buzz and the 300C has them in abundance – the dashboard, upper doors and centre console.
Instrumentation is very elegant and the thick four-spoke steering wheel (adjustable for rake and rear) feels nice. A centre analogue clock and ambient lighting add to the luxury.
Seats adopt varying dual-density foam with ‘pillow top’ designs – like all American cars, they’re large and comfortable. Same story in the rear where legroom is plentiful.
And for the expected American touch, the front cupholders are heated and cooled (hey, we enjoyed our warm coffees in the morning peak-hour rush).
Out back, the boot is massive (462-litres) and the 60/40 split-fold rear seat affords extra cargo versatility.
Chrysler 300C Exterior And Styling
The first Chrysler 300 drew gasps when it first appeared – edgy and tough to say the least – and while the all-new model has obvious cues to its predecessor, it’s more elegant and contemporary.
Chrysler’s Detroit-based styling team brought new technology into the mix, so for example, the all-new 300 adopts rolled frame doors (the old model’s doors were fully stamped) which enabled use of thinner pillars which are important in the more contemporary overall look.
And while the beltline is still relatively high, the all-new model adopts rear quarter windows for a three-window side design (which combines with the thinner pillars to provide better visibility). Further, the top of the windscreen is 76mm higher – again for enhanced vision.
At the front, the new-look grille and headlights are both modern and less ‘in-you-face’ than the predecessor, while the rear sees a bootlid spoiler and nice-looking clear lens tail-lights. Our 300C test car rode on nice 18-inch alloy wheels (20-inch optional and standard on ‘Luxury’ and SRT8 models).
Chrysler 300C On The Road
As an all-new model, with an all-new platform, the latest Chrysler 300C brings a chassis and suspension set-up significantly better than its predecessor. Benchmarking rival rear-wheel-drive sedans from Europe, Chrysler equips the latest 300C with a much stiffer platform – 67 per-cent of the lower structure and 53 per-cent of the upper structure in high-strength steel and special steel in the A and B-pillars and body panel reinforcements not only for ride and handling but also for rollover strength (the 300C can handle four-times its own weight when upside-down).
With a handy 50.9/49.1 weight distribution, new geometry for the front and multi-link rear suspension, new shock absorbers and springs, plus new bushings, the Chrysler 300 is slick and contemporary, no doubt about it.
And it feels slick on the road. While we haven’t yet secured a sporty SRT8 model for an extended test, our 300C made light work of our high-speed mountain roads test loop.
Driving any large sedan inevitably draws comparisons with the locally-made products and clearly the Chrysler 300C is more than a match for the best of them. We loved the front-end response which delivered sharp turn-in with hardly a hint of roll and that sophisticated rear-end (aided by the array of electronic aids) kept things nicely balanced at all speeds.
Response from the 3.6-litre V6 and eight-speed auto was good and the 300C accelerated with handy pace.
Around town, the Chrysler 300C was a very refined conveyance with pleasing levels of noise insulation. The high waistline meant, even with the standard reversing camera, some judgment was needed when reverse parking on the street (those alloy wheels are too nice to curb!).
Chrysler 300C Challenges
In the quest for interior style, Chrysler delivered the 300C with a slick-looking, compact gear lever as part of the shift-by-wire eight-speed automatic transmission, however its operation is quite fiddly and it clicks through the gears quickly. So on start-up and when switching from ‘drive’ to ‘reverse’ when parking, you sometimes slip into the wrong gear which necessitates starting the process again – this does ease with familiarity.
Chrysler 300C Verdict
The Chrysler 300C gets our vote for full-size sedans – a Car Showroom favourite. We like the on-road presence, the luxury interior is a standout and the driving dynamics are top-shelf.
In addition, family buyers and ‘user-chooser’ fleets will appreciate the interior space, luggage space and overall refinement of the big American.
And for any dinosaurs, clinging to questions about the quality of American vehicles – shelve them. This is 2012, things have moved-on since the 1990s - we’ve driven a number of Chrysler 300Cs and Jeep vehicles this year, and the Holden Volt for that matter, and they’ve all been nicely put together and exude obvious quality wherever you look.
Chrysler 300C The Competition
Chrysler 300C is a segment-straddler. Officially it’s listed as a prestige/luxury car which puts it alongside the likes of Holden Caprice (starting price $61,990). But that really should only apply to the 300C Luxury ($51,000) or sporty SRT8 ($66,000)…although at $51,000, you can see why the 300C Luxury is popular with five-star hotels and limousine drivers.
The mid-grade 300C ($46,500) more realistically competes with cars like the Holden Commodore Calais (starting price $50,290) and Ford Falcon G6E ($47,735). Holden wins the power race with 210kW/350Nm out of the venerable 3.6-litre V6 (210kW/340Nm) from Chrysler’s 3.6-litre and 195kW/391Nm from Ford’s 4.0-litre straight-six) but Chrysler 300C scores with its luxury interior and extensive standard kit.