Remember the ill-fated ‘merger of equals’ between Daimler and Chrysler in the late 1990s? In the end it was a merger of disaster and broke down a decade later, but you’re looking at what is one of the few success stories to come from it.

At the turn of the millennium, Chrysler’s US-specific entrants in the large executive sector were dreadful front-driven spudders like the Concorde and 300M. Chrysler engineers, though, speak fondly of travelling to Germany and having access at that time to the latest Mercedes technology and architecture.

The result was the 300C, which turned up at the New York motor show in 2003, before going on sale in the US in 2004 and then in the UK at the turn of 2005.

Sharing some mechanical components with Mercedes’ contemporary ‘W211’ E-class, it's a car that has brought Chrysler considerable success over the past decade. It did quite well in pre-financial-crisis Britain, plying Yankee charm and plenty of space for the money.

And now we have a replacement that, in its styling, has had the ‘Audi TT’ treatment: it’s modernised and updated but is clearly a continuation of Chrysler’s best recent model. The mostly new 300C is still badged as a Chrysler in the UK (and the US and most other markets) but has become the Lancia Thema throughout most of mainland Europe. Whatever the badge, though, the question remains: is it any good?

 

Top 5 Mid-size execs

  • The Jaguar XF is a sublime British executive saloon. It has a tremendous interior and even greater dynamics

    Jaguar XF

    1
  • Superb engine and cabin, but ride and handling let the side down

    BMW 5-series

    2
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
    The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

    Mercedes-Benz E-Class

    3
  • Audi A6
    The Audi A6 is a car that delivers in every area

    Audi A6

    4
  • The Lexus GS is unusual in the part of the market in not offering a diesel option

    Lexus GS

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever
  • Car review
    26 February 2015
    Flagship performance C-Class is more than ever a true rival for BMW's M3, and impresses with both its breadth of ability and its practicality
  • First Drive
    26 February 2015
    The new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?
  • First Drive
    20 February 2015
    Remember Mercedes' 6x6 monster off-roader? Well, this is the 4x4 version, and we've driven it.