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

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The battleship grey interior has been replaced by more upscale materials; the instrument panel, accented by soft blue lighting, is especially appealing.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

Add a comment…
montgomery 13 February 2011

Re: Chrysler 300C

giulivo wrote:
VM was known as Detroid Diesel when it was jointly owned by truck maker Penske and DaimlerChrysler. Now it's owned by Penske and GM. The Opel/Vauxhall/SAAB 4-pot is the Fiat Powertrain Family B, which Fiat supplies as part of the divorce deal with GM. They wouldn't supply Daewoo though, so GM Chevrolet Daewoo uses a (heavily improved and reworked) licensed version of the VM design. As an interesting coincidence, so do their fellow Korean rivals Hyundai Kia. Now it seems that the latest improvements by GM Daewoo have made the VM unit better than the FPT one, so I would not be surprised if GM decided to fit it to Opel Vauxhall as well. Also, in the latest version of the FPT product plan, the twin turbo Fam. B and the 2.4, 5-pot fam.C no longer appear, strangely enough. Instead there are a 2.8 4-pot and 3.0 v6, obviously of VM descent.

Fiat recently bought Penske's 50% of VM Motori so it's now 50/50- GM/Fiat....

jelly7961 13 February 2011

Re: Chrysler 300C

artill wrote:
If we believe the motoring press here, build quality has nothing to do with the ability to cover more than half a million miles, but is all about how soft touch the interior plastics are

You are so right! On the subject of high-mileage motors, my sister has an old (really old circa 1988) Subaru 'Sports' Wagon with well over half a million miles. Did not come with any soft touch plastics but it still starts and drives perfectly well. Oh and the dash is still in one piece as well!
artill 12 February 2011

Re: Chrysler 300C

ischiaragazzo wrote:
had almost 800,000 km on the clock. Still felt pretty tight from the back seat and according to the driver/owner has been exceptionally reliable

If we believe the motoring press here, build quality has nothing to do with the ability to cover more than half a million miles, but is all about how soft touch the interior plastics are.