For a long time in this country the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon have ruled the roost in the large car segment. Then the Chrysler 300c came along giving Australians another alternative.
To be frank though I had a good look at the previous model and came away unimpressed I thought it had a long way to go if it was going to compete with the rest of the market, so when Chrysler released the up dated model in 2012 I very interested to see if they had improved the 300c and was it a genuine competitor in the large car segment now.
One thing I didn’t find too bad on the previous model was the outside appearance, but Chrysler has stepped it up to another level while you can see the faint resemblance to the previous model Chrysler have taken those looks and made them much more stylish and muscular at the same time.
The front end looks too me more fluid and integrated then the previous model, the big grill which still says 300c looks more stylish, sleeker and better blended in. Gone is the egg crate replaced with a much better looking metallic horizontal bars.
The lower front bar looks much more fluid the fog lights are more integrated next to fog lights is what some people think is a third fog light but it’s actually the camera for the adaptive cruise control.
The newly designed HID headlights complete with LED DRL’s are thinner and better shaped and really tie the whole look of the front end this is a very attractive car front on and I received many, many comments during the week about how well it looked.
Side on the high hip line which gives the 300c it’s iconic stance has changed slightly and features a new 3 window and slightly thinner belt line design that combines with thinner pillars to approve viability yet doesn’t spoil those classic 300c looks. The front windscreen is 76mm bigger to improve forward vision both front and rear screens have more sweep which equals an improved coefficient.
The rear end which features an integrated rear spoiler, clear lens LED tail lights, and a metallic strip running across the top of the rear bar which have improved the looks giving the 300c much more style. The large rear fascia mounted exhaust tips really add a touch of muscle and really enhance the looks further, to say I really liked the outside look of the 300c is an understatement.
Chrysler has made a number of enhancements to the platform increasing the stiffness combined with other changes give the new 300c a much more quieter ride, better fuel economy and safety.
On the road you can really feel, changes made to the suspension and steering not only means the 300c rides exceptionally well but it handles exceptionally good as well, my eldest daughter and myself had a chance to take the 300c down some tight and twisty roads and both of us came away with smiles on our faces. We did over 300km in day just driving it around over various road surfaces and came away greatly impressed this car is a hoot to drive.
You do feel some bumps on your typical Sydney B and C roads but never enough to make you uncomfortable part of this could be contributed to the stylish 20 inch polished alloy rims but I can not be sure. But overall I found the ride in the 300c rather nice and it’s an extremely comfortable car to drive and ride in.
The new electro-hydraulic power steering system is very nice indeed some people might find it a touch heavy during parking but it’s still light enough to use one hand. This though translates to a very well weighted feel on road now while I didn’t push the car to extreme limits I had full confidence in the car the whole time.
Under the bonnet the 300c Luxury was fitted with Chrysler’s award winning 3.6L Pentstar V6 engine pushing out 210kw of power and 340Nm of torque and this engine is a real corker.
The 3.6L is very tractable and will easily keep up with traffic without much effort at all and it accelerates rather rapidly from a standing start if you are that way inclined.
The engine is a great mix of power and economy, during the week with short trips in really crappy Sydney traffic I returned roughly 14.6L per 100km which was good considering the traffic.
On the freeway was a completely different story with me seeing figures as low as 5.5L/100km as the engine is barely ticking over which leaves plenty of power for overtaking. During my 300km drive on the Saturday which was a mix of freeway, rural, urban and some spirited driving around some twisty roads I averaged 10.9L/100km which was extremely good.
What made it harder to keep the fuel economy figures down was the exhaust note, this has to be the best sounding V6 I’ve driven specially when you’ve got a few revs on board it’s plain simply very addictive.
While I’ve liked a few other V6 powered cars that I’ve driven before none has impressed as much as this one and I can tell why Chrysler have won awards with this engine.
Backing the V6 is the magnificent ZF 8 speed auto which is perfectly matched to the engine the shifts are smooth and seamless and it almost always seemed to find the right gear every time, the only time it sort of stuttered was once or twice coming off the accelerator and back onto it going around a slow corner it was a fraction slow to kick down but like I said it was only once or twice and never worried me a bit.
One feature I did like a lot was the sport shift you could leave it in sports mode and have the car change gears for you or you could change them yourself via the steering wheel mounted paddles, while I did let the car change gears for me once or twice I found changing gears myself so much fun and easy to do I pretty much changed gears myself everything I used the sport shift.
The 8 speeds was also part of the reason why this car is so economical on the freeway once in 8th gear on the freeway the car is barely reving.
On the inside and the 300c Luxury lives up to it’s name as it just oozes luxury the front leather seats are not only extremely comfortable but they reasonable supportive as well. The feature 8 way power adjustment as well as 4 way power lumbar support which it damn easy to find the correct driving position should anybody else drive your car the drivers seats has a memory function as well so you don’t lose your position.
The seats also feature heating and cooling which means whether it summer or winter you will be comfortable, my only complaint was the cooling function could of worked a bit better as it didn’t seem to really blow that hard. The Opel Insignia I reviewed earlier on in the year had seat cooling which worked much better because it blew harder.
The leather wrapped four spoke steering wheel steering wheel (which can be heated in winter) not only looks stylish but it is extremely comfortable to hold even after a few hours on the road. It contains the generic Chrysler switch gear (which is back lit at night) contains buttons for the Cruise Control and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) while audio controls are mounted on the rear of the steering wheel.
The instrument panel is a work of art the Rev tacho and Speedo are beautifully designed lit with sapphire blue lighting at night they are simply just plain attractive and everybody that had a look at them echo the same thoughts.
In between the dials in the LCD screen for the Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) which is access via the steer wheel controls while this system offers access to a wealth of information such as fuel economy, distance to empty, engine temperature, fluid levels and tyre pressure and allows the driver to select and customise personal settings. I find it a little fiddly and a touch distracting which was the same complaint I had with the Fiat Freemont which uses the same setup. I did get use to it but it is nowhere near as easy to use as the system in the Jeep Cherokee or several of the other cars I’ve reviewed this year.
The leather covered dash has a softish feel to it, there is satin chrome trim on interior centre stack and dash vents, the wood grain strip going across the centre of the dash adds to the whole picture. At night the interior is lit with subtle blue LED lighting which just adds to the ambiance and gives the 300c an up market feel that could easily belong in a euro luxury costing twice as much.
The Centre stack features the 8.4 inch colour touch screen for the UConnect infotainment system which is the hub of the car which offers full Bluetooth connectivity, voice activated communication, CD, DVD, MP3, and satellite navigation which works great, It also allows access to the climate control and heated seats.
This system is just so easy to use and the steering wheel controls mean you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel.
The 300c Luxury comes standard with a 9 speaker Alpine stereo system complete with a 500W amp and this is simply the best factory audio system I’ve ever used, I thought the Alpine system in the Fiat Freemont was good the 300c’s takes it 1 step further. The sound is just unbelievable and really made it extremely hard to get out of the car when you got home, in fact one night after dropping my youngest daughter off at a school disco we spent 20 minutes sitting in the car listening to music. The stereo system actually caused me lots of issues and me in two minds every time I drove the car simply from the fact the stereo sound and exhaust note are both wonderful so I could never make up my mind whether to listen to music or the just the exhaust. The simplest and best remedy was when the sport shift went on the stereo went off.
The console continues the open pore wood grain theme, there is a handy little door at the bottom of the centre stack which reveals the USB port and the 12V connection, the cup holders which are lit with blue led lighting at night is heated as well as cooled so not only will it keep your drink warm in winter in keeps your drinks cold in the summer I used the cooling function and it worked unreal. The shifter is the same as the one in the Jeep Grand Cherokee I review and it works rather well but tell you the truth with the steering wheel mounted paddles I hardy used it.
In the back seat the wood grain theme continues across the door trims, the back seat has plenty of leg room and is extremely comfortable it also has air vents for the air conditioning and the rear seat is also heated to keep your passengers warm in the winter.
Boot space is also rather good indeed and the 60/40 split fold rear seat folds in case you need to fit something bigger in.
Safety wise the 300c scores full points all round with electronic stability control (ESC), full-length side-curtain airbags, seat-mounted side thorax air bags, driver’s knee bag, ABS, All-Speed Traction Control (ASTC), tyre pressure monitoring, Brake Assist, Hill-start Assist, Rain Brake Support and Ready Alert Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross-Path Detection (RCP), front and rear park sensors, wide angle rear view camera (which displays on the Uconnect screen and gives an extremely clear picture even at night). Forward Collision Warning (FCW).
One of the great features that I found works extremely well is the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) which uses a radar sensor at the front of the car to detect objects in front of you.
When activated if the lane in front of you is clear the system will keep you at the speed you set in the cruise control speed, when you come up on slower traffic the ACC adjusts the speed to keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front. You can can also adjust the distance you want to keep from the vehicle in front via buttons on the steering wheel.
The 300c Luxury really impressed me a lot during the week a lot more then I thought it would, The V6 engine is wonderful has plenty power is very tractable and the offer decent economy when driven with that in mind, The 8 speed auto works a treat and well matched to the engine the tall 8th gear really helps with economy specially on economy.
The Interior is extremely luxurious the ambient LED lighting at night gives you the feeling you are in a car worth double the price, there is a massive amount of technology and more safety features then you can poke a stick at.
The outside looks give it an on road presence that you dont get from other cars (some euro’s included) this car seemed to create a lot of interest where ever I went.
My brief at the beginning was to see whether Chrysler had improved the 300c enough since the previous model to be seen as a serious competitor in the large car segment I would definately have to yes after spending a week in it. The car offers a great mix of looks, performance, style and luxury and is impressive enough to have the euro brands looking over their shoulders and looking at the latest sales figures it seems that Australians are starting to warm to the 300c for sure.
Thank you to the Fiat Chrysler group for the loan of the 300c Luxury for more information on the Chrysler 300c visit their website http://www.chrysler.com.au