I must start with a confession, I haven’t actually driven the new Chrysler 300C but do not let that put you off this review, because I have done, some would argue something even better. I have been Chauffeur driven in the new Chrysler 300C and driven by a slightly led footed and mafia-esk Italian none the less.
The new car unlike the old is now being sold under the watchful eye of parent company Fiat after their takeover of Chrysler in 2009. However it still uses the same underpinnings of the last generation Mercedes E-Class or W211 for all the platform anoraks out there much like the first 300C. This is no bad thing though, as a Mercedes isn’t exactly a bad car to base a new one on. Refinement and comfort are mainstays of Merc’s cars.
As I was in Europe I must point out that the car I was chauffeured in had a Lancia badge and was called the Thema, however that was literally the only difference, it was a 300C. From the outside, especially in black the 300 looks good, it hasn’t lost any of the gangster appeal of the previous car. It sits proud on 18 inch wheels with a high midline making it look like a body builder whose neck is almost engulfed by his shoulders, an imposing sight in any rear view mirror for sure. The lines are far crisper than the old car with straighter angles and thinner bi-xenon headlights on either side of the downsized but still suitably imposing radiator grill. Chrome trim has been added to the bumpers, door handles and window surrounds to add some extra class and there’s still twin exhausts at either side of the rear bumper. Eagle eyed readers may also have spotted parking sensors front and rear (either side of the number plates), which are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of kit that comes on the 300.
Two trim levels are available from launch, Limited (which I travelled in) and Executive. Both feature almost comically large lists of standard equipment, including some things which would cost quite an indecent amount of money to spec on the equivalent BMW or Audi. Things such as auto and bendy headlights which turn with the steering, auto dimming rear view and rain sensing wipers. Automatic window demister, auto dual zone climate control, keyless entry and start up not to mention the rain brake assist which helps keep the brakes dry in the wet. There is also an 8.4 inch touchscreen monitor which controls radio, mp3, Bluetooth, sat nav and car settings. On top of all that Executive models get a panoramic glass sunroof and a sun blind on the back window to keep rear seat passengers that little bit cooler along with other driver aids like blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
Once actually seated, the inside of the 300C doesn’t disappoint. The rear has massive amounts of leg room and importantly very comfy seats. While sitting there in absolute comfort I had time to notice the high quality materials, plush leather and contemporary piano black inserts and trim pieces on the dash which also come in opulent wood finish if you fancy. Looking into the front I was impressed by the massive clear dials, backlit in light blue not too unlike the style found in new Jags I thought. Sandwiched between the dials is a driver info display, which handily shows the sat nav directions if it’s in use along with the other usual stuff like outside temperature and MPG. (39MPG is what the car manages on the combined cycle if your wondering).
Only one engine is available in the 300 this time around and it is Chrysler/Jeeps brand new 3 litre turbo charged V6 diesel developing 236bhp and a massive 540Nm or torque. Sitting there I noticed how effortlessly it surged up to and beyond Italy’s 130kph (80mph) speed limit, making mince meat of German saloons in the inside lane. The 0-60 is an impressive 7.4secs considering the 300’s hefty 2117kg weight. It was also suitably silent inside with only the gentlest whisper of V6 thrum coming through into the cabin, quite a soothing sound actually combined with rear heated seats that were doing a good job of warming me up.
In conclusion then, Chryslers new 300C is an excellent car to be driven in, comfy, quiet and very good at getting you to places quickly. In terms of the driving experience, all I can say is when I asked the Chauffeur, in broken Italian, if it was good? He replied with an energetic double thumbs up, accompanied by the words si, si, si! Prices for the new 300C start at £35995 rising to £39995 and expect it in showrooms now, as of summer 2012.
The new Chrysler is relased on the UK on June 14.