From £29,480
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

Our Verdict

Chrysler 300C

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?

This is the ‘all new’ Chrysler 300C, which goes on sale in the UK on 14 June. The company says the 300C has been rethought from the ground up. The structure is new (it is longer, wider and lower than the outgoing version) and 67 per cent of the underbody and 53 per cent of the upper body is made from super-strong types of steel.   

This is reflected in last year’s EuroNCAP crash test results which saw the 300C’s Lancia Thema sister car awarded five stars. It rides on a five-link rear suspension system and uses sophisticated wishbone-type suspension at the front. The suspension geometry is new, better-quality suspension bushes are used front and rear and the steering is a neat hybrid system that uses an electric pump to drive the hydraulic assistance.  

The styling has not strayed far from the original 300C, with deep sides, small windows and a large grille. The wheel arches are more pronounced on the new model and the headlamps and large grille are subtler. Chrysler says the extra-stiff structure is part of the reason why this is one of the quietest cars in this class. The company also says it went to town on acoustic insulation, sound-deadening glass and wheel well liners.  

The UK line-up of the new 300C is very straightforward. There’s just one engine – a 236bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel – hooked up to a five-speed automatic gearbox with optional paddle shifters. The engine is made by VM Motori but has been developed by Fiat Powertrain and fitted with the company’s new Multijet 2 direct injection system.   

There are two trim levels: Limited (£35,995) and Executive (£39,995). The Limited spec includes everything from full leather and sat-nav to heated and cooled seats. The Executive adds 20in alloys, blind spot monitoring, active cruise control, collision warning, leather wrapping on the dash, a double-size glass sunroof and paddle shifters.

Options are limited to pearl-effect paint and a Harmon Kardon hi-fi. There will be no estate version this time, however, and there are no plans for a four-cylinder CO2 special. 

What's it like?

Actually, surprisingly good. Primarily, the 300C has a very impressive turn of speed from an impressively refined engine. It also has a pretty impressive combination of damping, ride and body control, especially for a car that was on 20in wheels.  

The peak horsepower figure is ‘only’ 236bhp but the engine’s peak torque is an impressive 399lb ft from just 1600rpm. While it doesn’t snap away from standstill (though a 0-62mph time of 7.4sec is hardly laggardly), the 300C has mighty in-gear pace. On the open roads of Cambridgeshire, the 300C demolished long stretches of open road with ease.  

More unexpectedly, the 300C also proved to have the damping and body control to allow the driver to carry higher speeds while feeling fully in control and well within the chassis’ limits. While there’s a good weight at the wheel rim, the actual sense of feedback when making directional adjustments is too distant, though it betters many Audis. 

However, that doesn’t stop the driver from being able to place the car accurately on winding switchbacks. Even at high speeds there’s a sense of calm and control in the cabin.   

The five-speed auto is especially slick and well integrated once beyond 10mph and it never feels lacking in ratios thanks to the engine’s muscle. Braking power is also impressive and easily modulated.  

At other times, however, the 300C does feel like a traditional, big rear-drive car. It is firmly planted but does not react quickly to sudden driver inputs. While the sense of stability is welcome at high speeds, this is translated into a certain indolence at low speeds.  

The combination of long-distance effortlessness, large cabin, 40mpg potential and extensive spec list makes the 300C look like a strong contender in the executive class. However, despite the improvement in the quality of the cabin materials and the undeniable impression of solidity, the detail interior design (such as the door pull surrounds and centre console detailing) doesn’t match Europe’s best.  

Should I buy one?

If you do, you’ll be in a fairly exclusive club. Chrysler UK expects to shift 450 300Cs this year and 750 in the whole of 2013. Truth is, this is not a car you will buy by accident. The 300C’s distinctive styling inside and out and its US origins make this a car for individualists who are happy to ignore the mainstream premium brands.   

But they will be rewarded with a refined car that has impressive pace and unexpected back-road verve, though it could hardly be classed as a sporting saloon. If you cover long distances across the UK, especially off the motorway network, the 300C has much to offer.

Chrysler 300C Executive

Price: £39,995; 0-62mph: 7.4sec; Top speed: 144mph; Economy: 39.2mpg; CO2: 191g/km; Kerb weight: 2177kg; Engine: V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power: 236bhp; Torque: 399lb ft; Gearbox: 5-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
23

30 May 2012

2177Kg's?

3.0L v6 Turbo diesel?

Heavy car, running on heavy oil! - No thanks!

BMW's 525D SE is lighter, faster and more economical for pretty much the same money as  the 300C limited.

As for the 300C Excecutive model, it's pretty much the same story with BMW's 530D SE!

Ah but you get the exclusive ownership club with the 300C!, except that really means you're going to lose a shed load of money when you come to sell because nobody wanted them in the first place.

 

 

30 May 2012

Quote:

you're going to lose a shed load of money when you come to sell

. Oh, I do hope so.

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

31 May 2012

There are better cars for ten grand less,with more premium quality,this is just noty enough,Mercedes, BMW,Lexus just to name three,all make products way better than this.

Peter Cavellini.

30 May 2012

You're quite right. Why should I buy something a little different from the normal German fayre?

I should just follow the herd and buy a BMWAUDIMERC instead.

 

30 May 2012

Ok, so hardly anyone would buy a V8 petrol 300C - but that's not the point.  The very essence of the 300C is the 5.7l Hemi V8.  The US has it, so does Australia (and probably many other markets besides).  Why not at least give buyers the choice? Plenty of people bought the previous incarnation with the V8.

Edit: I've just discovered that even the Lancia version is offered with a 3.6l V6 petrol.  Why do UK buyers have oil burners forced on us so incessantly? Sad

30 May 2012

TurtleGerald wrote:

 Ok, so hardly anyone would buy a V8 petrol 300C - but that's not the point.  

Actually, it is pretty much the entire point.  I'm sure that if Chrysler thought the Hemi V8 would sell, they'd happily offer it.

30 May 2012

It does seem like a car that would be good for running people over with somehow...

30 May 2012

The styling is growing on me, its nearly as good as the last one, and quite unlike anything else. Its no 5 series for sure, and thats a good thing too. its bigger, softer and better value, even if its gone up by a quite rediculous percentage from the last one.

Without a petrol engine, preferably the Hemi i wouldnt consider one, but in fairness i cant imagine buying one new whatever engine it had.

Its great there is still choice for the few who dont want a badge

30 May 2012

...which in my eyes is a great shame.

Maybe it's styling has been toned down so they were able to stick a Lancia badge on it.

Also, the lack of estate in the line up seems an own goal too.

30 May 2012

It's a pity there's no smaller capacity diesel engine option - I guess the FIAT Powertrain diesels are all configured for FWD?  The 210 HP 2.4 straight-5 JTD would have been fantastic.

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