2012 Chrysler 300C review

* New 300C executive saloon driven in UK * Only one engine and two trim levels offered * Limited model costs 35,995 and Exclusive 39,995...

2012 Chrysler 300C review

The old Chrysler 300C went off sale two years ago, but there's now a new version of this boldly styled executive saloon.

The latest 300C benefits heavily from the partnership that Chrysler signed with Fiat around the time the old model disappeared; its sister car is the Lancia Thema, which is sold in Europe.

This trans-Atlantic partnership has had an influence on the 300C, says Chrysler, with the new model aiming to combine German quality, American comfort and European finesse.

It's available with just one engine and gearbox - a 236bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel linked to a five-speed automatic. A V6 petrol engine that comes with an eight-speed auto 'box is offered in other markets, but there are no plans to bring this to the UK.

What's the 2012 Chrysler 300C like to drive?
Chrysler has certainly succeeded in creating a comfortable car - the 300C soaks up minor imperfections in the road with ease. In fact, the biggest indication that you are driving over patched-up surfaces is generally the noise of the suspension working rather than any jolts that are transferred to the cabin.

Chrysler 300C: a very comfortable car

Sadly, the 300C isn't so good at dealing with corners or large dips because these cause its body to wallow heavily. The 300C is never unnerving to drive, but it's nowhere near as composed as the rival BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF.

Refinement is far more impressive; there's minimal noise intrusion from the engine, wind or tyres, no matter what speed you're doing.

The engine pulls strongly, too. However, it could do with a better gearbox; the five-speeder is just too slow to change down when you ask for a sudden burst of acceleration, whether you leave it to its own devices or use the paddles on the steering wheel.

It would be interesting to see just what sort of an improvement the eight-speed gearbox would make, but this isn't offered with the diesel anywhere in the world.

What's the 2012 Chrysler 300C like inside?
Chrysler says the 300C majors on 'perceived quality', meaning it has put a lot of effort into the materials you touch and look at.

Sure enough, there's lots of leather, chrome and wood, whichever model you choose. Only some cheap-feeling trim on a couple of the storage compartments lets the side down.

The dashboard is dominated by a large touch-screen that you control most of the 300C's systems through. However, basic audio functions can still be controlled from buttons on the steering wheel so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.

The long list of standard equipment also includes adaptive cruise control, heated front and rear seats, a digital radio and cupholders that can heat or cool your drink.

There's plenty of space in the front of the 300C and lots of electric adjustment to help you get comfortable, but headroom is quite tight in the back. The middle seat isn't really an option for adults because both foot- and headroom are severely compromised.

The boot is modestly sized, at 481 litres, and while the rear seats fold down so you can increase that capacity, the gap between cabin and boot is a bit narrow.

Chrysler 300C: boot is modestly sized

Should I buy one?
The Chrysler 300C is a fine long-distance cruiser, plus it has a competitive 35,995 starting price and you get a lot of equipment for your money.

It still makes little sense as a company car because CO2 emissions of 185g/km (191g/km with the larger, 20-inch wheels) place it in a much higher tax band than most rivals.

However, if you're a private buyer who fancies a large, left-field saloon, the 300C has a lot going for it.

BMW 5 Series
Jaguar XF

What Car? says

Tom Webster

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