When the first version of the 300c broke out of the American market it was quite a stunning looking car. Huge and imposing with a mammoth V8 engine, it was luxurious and had the presence of something like a Bentley. It was amazingly value for such an inexpensive car but there were areas for improvement.
The second generation 300c is a much more mature car in all respects. It shares the chassis, engines and much of the underpinnings with the Lancia Thema, giving it a more European feel and allowing it to compete with the German executive saloons dynamically.
There are some really noteworthy new design elements. It’s is closer to the BMW 7-series in size, so the space available is a significant improvement over comparably priced car. The rear seating capacity alone is a grand 1435 litres. The new Chrysler 300C will, therefore, make an excellent family car, even when the children become teenagers, they will have plenty of room to lounge about. The sound-proofing is excellent in the vehicle making it a little difficult for me to tell whether there was any tire or wind noise at all on a motorway cruise.
The new 300C Chrysler has an excellent new drivetrain with a brand new 3.0L V6 turbo diesel engine. This gives it a very different feel to the old V8 powered car, but not in a bad way. The new diesel has a mighty 399 lb/ft of torque giving a great swell of power that means you don’t miss that big old V8 and the gearbox is much better suited to the power delivery. The updated traction control system has an improved road surface contact mechanism, ready alert braking and other similar features to ensure a safe and comfortable drive. The rain brake support system has also been introduced, giving an extra level of control in wet weather conditions. This system is automatically activated as soon as the windshield wipers on the car are set in motion. The safety features also comprise sensors in the back and front of the vehicle, which detect and give visual and audio warnings of obstructions and obstacles.
The new Chrysler 300C scores over its earlier version in the comfort department. Where the last car has excessive body roll and had some problems controlling its bulk, this car has a much improved chassis and the dampeners are more appropriately set for European and UK roads. The reaction time of the suspension has been vastly improved and the better packaging means that the seating and boot capacity are much more usable.
What the car has more than anything else is character, and a good one at that. The engine is gutsy and responsive, giving vastly better economy and emissions figures than the old, big V8, the chassis is fun, gives good feedback and a much better ride than the older version. The fit and finish of the entire car has been improved and the design has managed to retain the style of the old one while at the same time bringing it completely up to date. Where the old car felt like it enveloped you, this one feels much more tailored, much more alive and when the turbo kicks in, the acceleration keeps going and going. Overtaking is fun in the Chrysler.
Peter Graham is a car nut and lover of Americana who has recently completed rebuilding a 1967 Pontiac Firebird. He prefers the reliability of modern cars when he has to actually get anywhere, reviewing the latest models from the leading manufacturers like www.chrysler.co.uk