This is possibly the Chrysler’s strongest hand, with impressive kit levels in the Limited model, and even more lavish gadgets if you choose an Executive 300C. Highlights include heated and ventilated seats and cup holders, heated steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers, an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Garmin sat-nav and a panoramic sunroof.
When the original Chrysler 300C saloon arrived in the UK in 2005 it represented a chance for British buyers to get their hands on a large luxury saloon for less than the cost of an equivalent BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class. The 2012 model continues this ethos, but with neater details and improved quality. A newly designed Chrysler wing badge, re-styled grille, sculpted bonnet and slim bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are all signature design cues.
Designed with luxury in mind, soft-touch plastics and leather cover almost every surface inside the 300C. The dials are bathed in a unique light blue glow, and there’s a large 8.4-inch touchscreen display, which dominates the central console. The upper dashboard is surrounded by a large silver bezel, while the wood-trimmed lower console has the main climate controls and a drawer for small items. While wood trim can set alarm bells ringing for some customers, the quality and grain found in the new 300C make this an attractive addition.
The 3.0-litre V6 diesel produces 236bhp, which spurs the 300C on to 62mph in 7.4 seconds and gives it a top speed of 144mph. You won’t mistake it for a petrol, but the low rumble of the diesel engine isn’t unpleasant until you really gun it. It’s not a slow car in isolation, but it’s off the pace of the competition, with the BMW 530d and Mercedes E350 CDI both hitting 62mph in just over six seconds, with better economy. This is partly because the 300C’s five-speed automatic feels like yesterday’s technology, with smooth but slow shifts and long gaps between each gear ratio. The BMW now has an eight-speed automatic ‘box.
The 300C is a big car, which has advantages and disadvantages for practicality. Rear legroom is generous and the boot measures 481 litres, but it requires long arms to reach an item at the back, as the hinged boot lid provides a smaller opening than a hatchback. There’s also less space than the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class can muster, with 520 and 540 litres respectively. The rear seats can also fold down, providing extra space if needed. The downside is the length of the 300C, at just over five metres, which can make it tricky to park. At least you can see what’s behind, thanks to the standard ParkView reversing camera.
Chrysler says particular attention has been made to the premium quality of the 300C, which is built in Toronto, Canada. The 3.0-litre V6 is a tried and tested engine and the rest of the running gear should also prove robust.
Ride and handling
The 300C has close to a 50-50 front to rear weight distribution, allowing it to feel well balanced when steering through corners. But, weighing in at over 2,000kg this is a heavy car, so it’s best suited to cruising rather than being thrown around. The suspension is a new design, employing springs and dampers, and extra isolation around their mounting points to further remove vibrations and bumps from the cabin. There’s now less body roll in corners, but refinement has also improved, so while the 300C still can’t trouble the 5 Series’ handling prowess, it’s a relaxing and capable car to drive.
Economy of 39.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 185g/km are, again, not bad figures in isolation, and many owners should find them more than acceptable. But when the quicker, more powerful 5 Series manages 53.3mpg and 139g/km of CO2 in its cleanest guise, it’s hard to recommend the 300C for its economy.
The 300C is loaded with safety kit including Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection (which detects approaching traffic as you reverse out of a parking space) in the Executive trim level. Tyre Pressure Monitoring, anti-lock brakes and a system which primes the brakes if the car expects an emergency stop and dries the discs in wet weather are standard across the range. There are seven airbags fitted, several of which can open with more or less force, depending on the severity of impact.
The 300C doesn’t look like anything else on the road, with strong and imposing looks sure to make you stand out amongst the German contingent. In its own right it’s a good car too, it just can’t compete with the cutting-edge technology found in the latest BMWs and Mercedes’. You’ll need to find one for the right price for it to make sense.