Chrysler 300C First Drive
Bold, Brash, American, of course we are talking about Chrysler, and the new Chrysler 300c. We were asked across to the very first UK Chrysler 300c test drive, you can read our review below, or head to YouTube for the Chrysler 300C video review.
The new executive car is a completely fresh build from the base up, following on from the very successful 300c released way back in 2004. That particular version made Chrysler reborn, especially in the US, with the mean, deep grill becoming a near icon of car front ends.
Well now it is time for the latest incarnation, and for the most part at least, we like, a lot.
The first thing that strikes you is how large this car is, or as my American co-driver called it ‘a boat’… It’s long, wide, and fairly tall. Yes it is an executive, but when compared to the likes of the BMW 5 series and Audi A6, it is still quite a beast. Saying that, if anything, it may be less striking than the previous model with that world famous grill, I don’t know what it is, but I found this car a little less jaw dropping.
Because of the cars sheer size, we think it will appeal to a certain type of person, it still makes a statement, and automatically oozes that quality, distinguished look of a larger car. We are big fans of the side profile and the rear, but something about the front isn’t quite there for us. Maybe it is our high expectations after last time? We don’t know, but it has more of a classic Maybach feel than that of a brand new executive hitting the road in 2012.
The 300C is so so close to being perfect, and we are not even joking. On the surface, everything about his car seems to breed class, the deep leather seats, quality feel & bold dash, the technology and gadgets at your finger tips. We literally just pressed buttons for hours!
However there are a few little niggles. It comes down to that word someone buying a car hates, plastic. For some unknown reason Chrysler has decided to put a few mock wood, plastic panels in. And these just aren’t the normal poor quality finishes in some cars, they are worse! In the centre console and a small trim on the doors, you will find it. And it really is terrible. It’s that bad I would be a little surprised if Chrysler didn’t change it quick sharp before launch. It really does put a dark tinge on the whole experience, and once you notice it, you just can’t help think about it.
The other slight gripe is the rear legroom, which is crazy given the size the car. The rear seats themselves are vast and very comfy, but the legroom is limited for such a large car when you have people riding up front. The reason has to be the abyss that the Americans call a ‘Trunk’. You could fit hundreds of golf clubs in it, or a range of dead bodies if that’s your business. We just can’t understand the need for such a large space (estate like in size) when they sacrifice space up in the cabin.
That said, the rest of the car is the level of specification you would expect, and perhaps even beyond. We had the top level Executive trim, and to be honest if you are going to be paying that kind of money, it is a no brainer to be the trim of choice. Imagine workmanlike German quality, but with some character. It’s hard to explain how good the seats are, not in comfort (infact they were a bit big and wide for my non American butt), but the fact they are air cooled. Yes, not only are they heated, but they have thousands of tiny holes, which at the flick of a (touch screen) button, blow air through the seat and on to your body. No words can actually explain how good it felt! Like a thousand angels air massaging your back.
Not only that, but the cup holders were also a moment of marvel, you can choose to keep your cup hot or cold depending on your drink, and the car moderates the temperature for you. Quite a simple concept, but a welcome quirk all the same.
We of course mentioned the couple of great little features / boy toys above, but perhaps what really sets this car apart is the 7 inch touchscreen in the dash. Not too uncommon, but it actually works, and the user interface is easy to use and understand. Now that is rare.
The main top level categories are always visible at the bottom. Radio, Player (Media), Controls, Climate, Navigation, Phone and Settings. Each of them offers a range of options which pretty much do as you expect, and all laid out where you would expect them as well.
After that, everything is pretty much as you would expect it, electric seats, mirrors, rear parking camera, parking sensors front & back, and everything else including keyless go.
On the Road
Now lets be honest, we expected quite a lot. A car placing itself in the executive category against those smooth, no frills Germans is going to have its work cut out. And, perhaps to our slight surprise, we weren’t disappointed.
The car was smooth, one of the quietest in it’s class, and whilst cruising there was hardly a whisper, even though it packs quite a punch, with the 3 Litre V6 Diesel already found in the Jeep Cherokee pushing out 213 horses under the bonnet. It was fairly potent, reaching 60 mph in a little over 7 seconds, and will hit a 144 mph top speed (spec, not that we tested). The lack of engine options is a surprise, with just that 3 Litre V6 available, whilst many of its competitors offer a much more economical 2 Litre model.
Though we did the find the accelerator a little heavy, the automatic box (only 5 speed) was smooth. You could also manually shift up and down using the stick, or the really well positioned paddle shifts. Although we are usually the biggest fans of the paddleshift, these responded well, and the position did feel very natural.
For such a large car, it is also surprisingly nimble. It sticks to the road like glue, and responds well to a purposeful gesture on the steering wheel. Even without resorting to the manual over ride on the gears, overtaking was easy and safe, with power there when needed. Economy wise, on a 150 mile trip through a range of different driving conditions we managed an average MPG of 34 or there abouts. We may have a slight heavy foot, but is this really good enough when compared to the rest?
2012 Chrysler 300C First Drive Verdict
Overall we are big fans of the Chrysler 300C. The smooth ride and good handling, coupled with the solid bold looks, and mass of technology and gadgets make this a really good car. So good that the few little niggles with the finish are nearly all forgotten, nearly.
If you are looking for an alternative to the Audi and Mercedes of this world, the 300C should definitely be near the top of your list. Chrysler’s current brand message is ‘different’ but we can’t help wondering if this is quite different enough?
Thinking about a Chrysler 300C, would you go American? Don’t forget we have been forced to join Google+ by the search engine giant.