Chrysler 300C flagship is back!
MORE STYLE, MORE SWAGGER: The new flagship is a great product to boost Chrysler’s revival in SA but will the 300C’s virtues outweigh the baggage of the brand?
Author: SERGIO DAVIDS
Mixing chunky, bold style with opulence, Chrysler’s flagship sedan is back in South Africa and it’s as brash as ever! Be prepared for comment as the new 300C swaggers ashore.
Ah, the previous 300C… a luxury ride offering healthy helpings of opulence and power and a garish “in-your-face” design that craved attention. Chrysler’s niche gamble may have won over its American customer base but in South Africa the gamble never paid off - only 1200 sold since 2005 before heading into obscurity.
Since then the automaker has learned from its shortcomings, remains afloat despite the vehicle industry implosion, and has returned to SA with its new flagship.
The next generation 300C has arrived in SA and it remains a brash American sedan with bucketloads of personality and opulence to match. The 2012 model builds on the unmistakable design of its predecessor with a refined design but will it be enough to claw its way out of a tiny niche and into the mainstream luxury sedan segment in SA?
The new model is available in two engine choices, 3.6 V6 petrol and 3.0 diesel, with one specification level. Chrysler has also added its monstrous 6.0 V8 HEMI SRT8 version to its South African line-up. In terms of pricing, Chrysler has gone the “value offering” route as premium pricing for a niche vehicle such as the 300C would be detrimental.
The 3.6 petrol retails for R479 990, the 3.0 diesel R539 990 and the the performance-tuned SRT8 carries a price tag of R629 990.
Gone is the “egg crate” grille and in its place are toned-down horizontal chromed slats. This gives the new model a more approachable and elegant look than its predecessor’s “Look at me! Look at me!” design. The LED headlights are a welcome touch and overall the front may not differ too much from the previous model but the subtle changes make it more eye-catching. It’s certainly a lot more imposing than the Audi A6 but lacks the finesse of Jaguar's XF.
The rear receives minor changes with LED lights and the tapered wings are a hat-tip to muscle cars of yesteryear such as the 1955 Chrysler 300C. The new model is five metres long, 1.9 wide and 1.4 tall.
The chucky, cubic styling might not appeal to everybody tastes and Chrysler remains unfazed as it claims the new model is "unashamedly male".
PETROL V6 GRUNT
The 3.0 V6 petrol is capable of 210kW at 6350rpm and has a torque peak of 340Nm at 4650rpm. This translates into a 0-100km/h time of 7.7 seconds and top speed of 240km/h. The engine is mated to an eight-speed auto with fuel consumption rated at 9.7 litres/100km and emissions at 227g/km.
With ample power on tap and a seamless auto, the new 300C will be an ideal driver's car and provide comfort and road-hugging grip even during a spirited drive. The relaxed steering is suited to cruising on the open road. It’s hard to believe a car of this size can feel so nimble. The ride mimics the 300C’s design – more of the same but with the rough edges smoothed out.
ITALIAN DIESEL POWER
The 3.0 V6 turbo diesel, debuted in the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was developed by Fiat and uses the Italian automaker’s MultiJet 2 technology.
The engine produces 176kW at 4000rpm and 550Nm from 1600-2800rpm. This diesel can dash to 100 in 7.4sec and has a top speed of 230km/h. Mated to five-speed auto, fuel consumption is rated at 7.2 litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 191g/km.
LUXURY AS STANDARD
The 300C's luxury cabin is lavishly decorated and exudes luxury. The interior is finished in leather with blue LEDs on the centre console along with soft-touch skins and fabrics. It could be argued that the previous 300C wasn’t on par with its competitors, especially the Germans, but this time around is a better-value offering, especially as the base three-litre petrol has a high level of standard kit that most rivals would offer as extra-cost options: ventilated and heatable front seats, Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth, dual auto airconl and an 21cm touch screen are some of the standard features.
A double sunroof is a nice touch.
The front cupholders can chill or heat beverages. diode lighting glows blue when items are chilled and red when hot. I’m not sold on the “aged” wooden trim and would’ve opted for a sheen finish instead as the etched panels don’t do the interior justice.
MONSTER IN A TUXEDO
Chrysler's performance arm, SRT, joined forces with vehicle customising gurus Mopar to create the monstrous 300C SRT8. The model is powered by a six-litre HEMI V8 petrol capable of 347kW at 6100rpm and a torque peak of 631Nm at 4150rpm. We took on the serene hills near Plettenberg Bay in the roaring, tracked-tuned 300C! Story live shortly...
The biggest change over its predecessor is that of refinement. The 300C now shows how far the brand has come in its design and engineering which serves to bolster the US automaker's perceived and actual quality.
The 300C takes on the likes of the Lexus GS, Mercedes E-Class, Jaguar XF and BMW 5 Series but it's a bizarre sign of the times that one of the most “American” of sedans is now assembled in Canada, uses a Mexican engine and has a German transmission. Despite its multinational engineering, the Chrysler 300C is a large, powerful, audacious sedan that’s managed to retain its Red, White 'n Blue presence - and tastefully so.
Chrysler 300C 3.6L V6 eight speed - R479 990
Chrysler 300C 3.0L V6 five speed diesel – R539 990