From £29,480
Not quite as distinctive as the original, but more refined and better balanced, inside and out

Our Verdict

The car’s nomenclature is inherited from a 6.4-litre Hemi-engined limousine of 1957

Can this reworked exec saloon take the fight to Europe’s finest?

  • First Drive

    Chrysler 300C

    The new Chrysler 300C is the sister car of the Lancia Thema, and continues to offer a unique charm, even if its detailing fails to match the class best
  • First Drive

    Chrysler 300C

    Still lacks a little polish next to the established rivals, but seriously competitive and likeable nonetheless

What is it?

Originally introduced in 2004, the Chrysler 300C was – and remains – among the most distinctive saloons on the road.

Sadly, the interior betrayed that bold vision, with its jumble of cheap plastic parts. The drive was acceptable, if uninspiring, and quality was a distinct problem.

So imagine the challenges product developers faced in redesigning the icon: they had to maintain its bravado, add a world-class interior, upgrade ride and handling, improve quality – and do it all as Chrysler was facing financial ruin.

What's it like?

For the most part, they have succeeded. The new 300C is decidedly more refined, if a little less distinctive than before, with a more rounded exterior accented by Audi-like LED running lamps.

The battleship grey interior has been replaced by more upscale materials; the instrument panel, accented by soft blue lighting, is especially appealing. However, the seats, while comfortable, don’t provide the support you’d like – although an all-new 300S model, due later in the year, promises to resolve that issue.

Chrysler and Italian partner Fiat plan to introduce the 300C in Europe as the next Lancia Thema (though it will still wear a Chrysler badge in the UK), and you can sense where their ‘best of both worlds’ mindset influenced ride and handling.

Yes, it has the classic American muscle, especially with the 358bhp 5.7-litre Hemi V8, but as we discovered on the mountain switchbacks outside San Diego, the new 300C delivers more European-style road manners.

In addition to the Hemi, there’s also a 3.7-litre V6. Both engines are paired with a five-speed automatic, but an all-new ZF eight-speed is coming and should bump highway fuel economy with the V6 up to more than 35mpg. Four-wheel drive is offered too, but only on the Hemi.

Should I buy one?

It’ll take some time for Chrysler to rebuild its quality reputation, but it hopes to win over sceptics by delivering plenty of value for money with a surprisingly well equipped base car, including seat heaters, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control and more for around £25k.

Yes, there are still flaws, but for the money the 300C could get Chrysler back on plenty of shopping lists.

Paul A Eisentein

Chrysler 300C 5.7 Hemi

Price: £35,000 (est); Top speed: 155mph (limited); 0-62mph: 5.9sec; Economy: 25.0mpg (est); CO2: na; Kerb weight: 1937kg; Engine: V8, 5654cc, petrol; Power: 358bhp at 5200rpm; Torque: 394lb ft at 4200rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
42

7 February 2011

I think it,s going to make a luverly Lancia

7 February 2011

Interior definitely looks better.

The sad thing is though, I can see this ending up as a modern day Scorpio / Omega in the used market if Fiat / Chrysler price it too keenly in the UK.

Make an interesting police car though!

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

7 February 2011

i like this 300, didn't like the first one, too brash, too rubbish to be taken seriously!

I'd like this even better if we were getting the Lancia Thema version! But alas its not to be, but this could well turn things around for Lancia/Chrysler!

7 February 2011

[quote marktobin]I'd like this even better if we were getting the Lancia Thema version[/quote]

MoPar in the US will sell six different grilles including the Bentley-style wire mesh, so clipping in a Lancia grille should not be too much of a task. The rear badge and wheel hubs should not be too difficult either.

In Europe we will get a 3.0 V6 Turbodiesel with 225-250 HP, built under licence from VM Motori.

7 February 2011

[quote giulivo]

MoPar in the US will sell six different grilles including the Bentley-style wire mesh, so clipping in a Lancia grille should not be too much of a task. The rear badge and wheel hubs should not be too difficult either.

[/quote]

It's not just about the grille. I know where marktobin is coming from, it is more about the brand.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

7 February 2011

But don't you think it should come with a kite mark?, you know?,tested and approved, of saleable quality in what ever country it's to be sold in?.

Peter Cavellini.

7 February 2011

It's lost a bit of presence with it's Audi-esque front end. The exterior didn't really need changing. If only I could afford the petrol!

7 February 2011

I'm not sure about the success of the car, badged as a Lancia, in Italy.

The market for luxury sedans is very small here, and it's dominated by Audi, Mercedes and BMW, usually in very high specs...

With all due respect the VM Motori Diesels were never been among the best...

7 February 2011

[quote matsoc]With all due respect the VM Motori Diesels were never been among the best...
[/quote]

Yep, but the first gen 300C only started selling in the UK once a diesel was introduced.

7 February 2011

[quote matsoc]VM Motori Diesels were never been among the best.[/quote] I thought the original had the Mercedes engine in. So are they changing engine for the diesel version or aim I confusing things? If they are changing engine is this a step forward or something to be concerned about.

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