It arrived in saloon form in late 2005 powered by a choice of petrol engines: a fairly unremarkable 3.0 V6 and a more charismatic 5.7 V8 Hemi. The V6’s starting price of just £25,750 registered more than a ripple in the executive pond dominated by BMW and Mercedes, but what made a splash, a few months later in January 2006, was the more rounded CRD diesel, also costing £25,750.
It was followed in the summer by the range-topping SRT-8, powered by a 6.1-litre V8 Hemi and dressed to impress with Brembo brake calipers and sharpened suspension. By rights, it’s the one we should be talking about, but it’s rare. The CRD diesel is much more plentiful and at a range of prices peaking at a ludicrous £12,000 for a mint, last-of-the-line 2010-reg CRD SRT-Design. The CRD is no pushover, either, with 0-62mph possible in 7.4sec.
In any case, the SRT-8 was eclipsed by the arrival, also in summer 2006, of the 300C estate. It’s called the Touring and, thanks to its long, low roof, it looks even meaner and certainly sportier than the saloon.
Sensibly, the mid-life facelift in 2008 left the 300C’s imposing nose unchanged. (It took the gen-2 version of 2012 to bland it out.) Instead, the rear lights were tweaked but, more important, the interior got a mild makeover and better leather. The CRD SRT-Design, inspired by the SRT-8 but without the power and handling tweaks, arrived too.
Standard equipment from launch was good and included a sat-nav, a premium music system, heated leather seats and even an adjustable pedal set. But today, reliability and rust will be the no-cost extras buyers will be concerned about.
Amazingly, for all the 300C’s solidly steel construction, corrosion doesn’t appear to be an issue. The diesel engine is a solid old thing too. Instead, it’s electrical gremlins that plague some cars. For these you need a clued-up specialist. Find one, find a good 300C CRD – and laugh in the face of scrappage.