From £29,480
Still lacks a little polish next to the established rivals, but seriously competitive and likeable nonetheless

Our Verdict

Chrysler 300C
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

It’s a tricky one, the Chrysler 300C. The last generation did well in the UK thanks to an appealing combination of all-American mafioso style and budget price. So how does it work now that this model gets design by Chrysler, and will in fact be sold throughout mainland Europe as a Lancia Thema?

What's it like?

Well, actually the result is an impressively rounded exec saloon. We drove the 236bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which sends power to the rear wheels via a five-speed auto ‘box. A 188bhp version of the same powertrain will also be available in the UK from launch in spring 2012, and an eight-speed ZF automatic will join the range later the same year.

Despite the 20-inch alloys that our test car rode on, damping over bigger bumps was adequate, avoiding any severe thumping or crashing. It did suffer over high frequency creases and cracks in the surface, where it could get very jittery, but overall the ride was very acceptable.

Cabin space is on a par with the likes of the BMW 7-series and the finish benefits from some nice quality materials. You’d most likely forgive the slightly clunky touch-screen system given that the 300C is so aggressively priced in its class.

The steering offers little feel but satisfying weight and predictable response make it easy to place on the road. Give it a bit more vigour and the chassis responds well enough – there’s lots of grip and stability – but the lethargic gearbox will most likely put you off before you get anywhere near its limits. It’s fine in normal driving but struggles if really pushed.

Ultimately, the new 300C is a likeable and well-judged car. The emissions let it down, so company car users need not apply, and there’s no avoiding the evidence of its budget placement in the market. But the pleasant interior offers enough quality detail and equipment that you don’t ever feel short-changed and it’s a pleasant thing to drive.

Should I buy one?

Prices won’t be confirmed until nearer the launch, but we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the new Chrysler 300C if space is a priority and the distinct image appeals. Waiting for the eight-speed auto to arrive would be a smart move, but if you can’t restrain yourself that long then the five-speed won’t disappoint.

Chrysler 300C 3.0 V6 Multijet II diesel

Price: £39,000 (est); Top speed: 143mph; 0-62mph: 7.8sec; Economy: 39mpg; Co2: 191g/km; Kerbweight: 1963kg; Engine type: 2987cc, V6 turbodiesel; Power: 236bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 406lb ft at 1800-2800rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd auto

Join the debate

Comments
31

20 October 2011

Interior looks quite pleasant, and at least the satnav screen is sensibly placed unlike recent German offerings. It seems to have watered down the styling from the original, which is a shame, starting to a look bland. And where's the hemi?

20 October 2011

[quote Tatraman]least the satnav screen is sensibly placed unlike recent German offerings.[/quote]

How is a sat nav screen placed down on the dash, rather than on top of it where it is easier to see more sensibly placed?

20 October 2011

I assume this is the US spec car that has been tested, rather one that we will see for Europe?

If not, this does not bode well for the Lancia brand, although for us in the UK with our expectations of Chrysler products it seems to be business as usual. Clearly they haven't addressed any of the quality issues of the previous car and I am not sure how that will sit in Europe where Fiat want Lancia to be seen as a cut above their Fiat brand.

Pricing will have to be key but as it stands it is going to have to be seriously cheap to get sales.

Also is there any word from Chrysler regarding improved emissions when this engine is coupled with the new 8 speed gearbox?

It may be likable but it is going to have it's work cut out.

 

 

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

20 October 2011

Lancia-design? Really Autocar? The redesign for this car began well before Fiat had any involvement with the brand. The only thing Lancia has to do with the big Chrysler is the fact that it's being with their badge in most of Europe.

20 October 2011

[quote TegTypeR]Clearly they haven't addressed any of the quality issues of the previous car[/quote]

How do you figure that?

And whats with the opening statement of this report: "now that this model gets design by Lancia"

The design was finished (Thankfully) long before Lancia even had anything to do with it. Lancia are in no way capable of producing a design that looks as good as the 300C. If Lancia had anything to do with the design, it would be a curious mix of ungainly curves. Lancia arent capable of a straight line these days. We all no what happens when they turn their hand to saloon design:

http://www.netcarshow.com/lancia/2002-thesis/800x600/wallpaper_02.htm

Dont look it will burn your eyes!

If this partnership is to work, please leave the Styling to Chrysler. Maybe Lancia can do the leather, or work on things that aren't seen for the sake of everyones vision.

20 October 2011

[quote fhp11]

[quote TegTypeR]Clearly they haven't addressed any of the quality issues of the previous car[/quote]

How do you figure that?

[/quote]

I will admit to reading between the lines but statements like:-

You’d most likely forgive the slightly clunky touch-screen system given that the 300C is so aggressively priced in its class.

the lethargic gearbox will most likely put you off before you get anywhere near its limits. It’s fine in normal driving but struggles if really pushed.

And, most importantly.....

and there’s no avoiding the evidence of its budget placement in the market.

Give it away a little.

 

 

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

507

20 October 2011

Are you aware?

Some time ago major manufacturers in Europe and Japan bought in the 300c for comparison. The car was of such general poor quality that it was disassembled and used as a joke, often to boost morale!

I do like Fiat products, in spite of their poor quality, but leave Lancia out of this automotive misery!

20 October 2011

[quote TegTypeR]

I will admit to reading between the lines but statements like:-

You’d most likely forgive the slightly clunky touch-screen system given that the 300C is so aggressively priced in its class.

the lethargic gearbox will most likely put you off before you get anywhere near its limits. It’s fine in normal driving but struggles if really pushed.

And, most importantly.....

and there’s no avoiding the evidence of its budget placement in the market.

[/quote]

Whilst they are the only main critisisms of the vehicle I would say that even they are weak and I'm not sure that it equates to: "No effort made."

Odd that the new Uconnect system is described as "Clunky" when all teh reviews I have read of it say how excellent it is and in the US it is stated as one of the best on the car market.

The gearbox is soon to be replaced with the 8 speed and even the Mercedes 5 speed is not bad at all.

And yes, she does say: and there’s no avoiding the evidence of its budget placement in the market.

Without really backing that up.

ride was very acceptable, Cabin space is on a par with the likes of the BMW 7-series, finish benefits from some nice quality materials, lots of grip and stability, pleasant thing to drive,we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the new Chrysler 300C.

Doesnt really sound like: No Effort made to me.

The biggest downfall that they will make is that Fiat seem to have become rather Greedy in pricing Chrysler models at the moment rather than their competitive previous pricing so time will tell.

But I would definately go for one if in the market for a large saloon.

20 October 2011

I wasn't sure about the looks of this new model when I saw the pics a while ago (particularly the front end which looked watered down compared to the previous one), but now I think I prefer it. The proportions are much better, and give it an appealling chunkiness.

20 October 2011

This one says price as tested £39k, the previous 3.0CDI with leather etc was £23k, is this new version really worth that much of a price jump?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales