BRIMMING with a range of new features but maintaining its distinctive look, the Chrysler 300 has a dose of nostalgia.
The large four-door sedan was Australian bread and butter not so long ago, but with local manufacturing winding up at the end of this decade, offerings such as this could be few and far between.
Chrysler has developed a niche in this genre, and by 2018 could be the lone offering in this space and price bracket.
Grant: There's certainly a following for the car. Gangster and drug dealer were among the labels I received on my test drive… don't think that was in the marketing brochure.
Vani: Ha-ha, me too along with offers in the Woolworths car park of all places to star in a hoochie mama rap video. But you know what, I like that this car is distinctive, that it stands out from the crowd.
As you would expect, given its size, the interior is really spacious with plenty of room to stretch out. The kids on opposite ends of the back seat couldn't even touch each other. There is a nice range of equipment, too, including heated and cooled seats and the 21.3cm touch-screen is impressive but, as in the Jeep, it is difficult to see the screen with the sun shining in on it.
G: Spot-on, Chrysler has certainly thrown a lot of kit at this variant. Luxury resonates with the Nappa leather trim, electric adjustment of the seats, and the slick safety additions, such as lane departure and blind spot warnings, as well as the radar cruise control feature which maintains a safe distance from the car ahead. That's a Euro-like features list for less than $55K.
You get some pretty good bang for your buck and the styling ensures you maintain a constant level of street smarts - even through I'm a small white man who couldn't scare a duckling.
V: Well, with all the room in the boot (more than 460-litres) you could probably stow a flock of ducks instead of scaring them away… It is plain that Chrysler has gone some way to pepping up the interior but it still feels a bit dated to me.
On the road though, it still manages to impress with its 3.6l V6 Pentastar engine making light work of the obvious bulk. True, this is no sports car, despite the sports button, but it gathers speed quickly and offers a smooth enjoyable drive. It's quieter than its predecessor too, so you can really hear yourself belting out your favourite ditty.
G: The bent six can get up and boogie, and it's a dream on a highway run. You're right that things can get a little unwieldy in the bends if you push too hard, and for those who want a firmer ride with more twisting dexterity there is always the hulking 6.4-litre V8-powered 300 SRT. Those monumental 20-inch wheels look the goods and do a reasonable job of soaking up the bumps and lumps, although they'll hurt the hip-pocket come replacement time.
V: You're right there but they are certainly a worthy addition. Not too much seems to have changed on the outside for the 300C - the grille is a bit bigger, integrated LED fog lights and a sleeker rear bumper - but it is a hard car to miss. Our test vehicle was white and did okay for appeal, but I am certain a black or gunmetal grey would have a tad more street cred.
It's versatile, this 300C, and although Chrysler is targeting it at self-made over-40s, it is not a bad family car. It has the space and comfort and is easier to manoeuvre in a supermarket car park than you would think.
It is a thirsty little number though and we struggled to get within spitting distance of the official 9.4 litres/100km.
G: We couldn't get much better than 11 litres for every 100km, which is not bad given the size.
V: Practically speaking, it would be nice if the seats had a bit more side bolstering to keep you in should you get opportunistic around the turns, but overall it is a fun drive and makes an interesting alternative to cars like the Hyundai Genesis ($60,000), Holden Caprice V6 ($59,490) and maybe the Ford Falcon G6E Turbo ($47,050). Fixed-price servicing is also a drawcard.
G: But the servicing intervals are every six months, whereas most nowadays are annual. It no doubt assists in preventing issues, but getting the vehicle back to the dealer or mechanic can be painful. But overall it's certainly likeable. Sure, it's brash, burly and overtly American, but it maintains presence with super-sized attitude.
Model: Chrysler 300 C Luxury.
Details: Four-door five seat large rear-wheel drive sedan.
Engine: 3.6-litre six-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 210kW @ 6350rpm and peak torque of 340Nm @ 4300rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Consumption: 9.7 litres/100km (combined average)
Bottom line: $54,000.
What matters most
What we liked: Awesome presence made by the 20-inch rubber, spacious cabin, quiet ride.
What we'd like to see: Improved fuel consumption, more contemporary interior.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year/100,000km warranty with servicing every six months or 12,000km. Capped price servicing is available through dealers, with the average price over the first five services $386.
Driving experience 14/20
Features and equipment 18/20
Functionality and comfort 18/20
Value for money 17/20
Style and design 17/20
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