The 300C plays somewhat fast and loose with executive class norms. Initially created almost a decade ago out of what Chrysler majority shareholder Fiat would probably sell to you as American blue-sky thinking, the car has grown a little for this second generation but, on the face of it, hasn’t changed a great deal.
Classified by familiar European terms, you might say that it was sized like a BMW 7 Series, positioned like a 5 Series but priced at considerably less, even, than an equivalent handsomely fitted-out 330d. At 3052mm, the car’s wheelbase is within 2mm of the last version’s and still more generous than that of a standard 730d, Jaguar XJ or Audi A8. But 300C prices start around £36,000 – in a country where a full-sized executive saloon can’t be bought for much less than £60k.
The 300C doesn’t exactly represent the state of the executive car art as far as its construction or powertrain is concerned but, positioned like it is, few would expect it to. In a segment where aluminium is commonly used to save weight and boost rigidity, its underbody is made almost exclusively of steel of varying tensile strengths and thicknesses, with nylon-polymer reinforcements in places. Gains in structural stiffness are claimed, but the car isn’t light: 2040kg with a full tank of fuel. The last V6-engined mid-sized exec we tested, the Lexus GS250, was just under 1700kg.
Chrysler also claims improvements in body and wheel control thanks to a new suspension system with multi-links at both ends, negative camber on the front wheels and fluid-filled hydraulic bushes on the front axle.
Only one engine is available: a common-rail 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel, built by VM Motori, that is also currently serving in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It drives the rear wheels through one of the last five-speed automatic gearboxes you’ll find anywhere in the new car market. So no prizes for emissions-saving technological sophistication there, either.