I've driven the Chrysler 300 before, but it was a long, long time ago in a place far far away. And it was for no more than 30 minutes. Oh, and it may have also been an SRT model, so really I've never driven a Chrysler 300. But here this week I do get to drive a Chrysler 300C, whatever the C means...
That's right, this large family sedan is powered by Chrysler's famous 5.7-litre Hemi engine putting out 363 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque and an eight-speed automatic transmission with centre-console mounted dial shift control.
My tester is a "Platinum" edition of the 300C -- or what I like to call full jam. It comes with some interesting features like heated and cooled cupholders, which I think is a first time for me. Anyhow, the important stuff includes: premium Nappa leather seats and leather interior trim and dashboard, luxury floormats, dual-pane panoramic sunroof, platinum chrome side mirrors and door handles, black grille with platinum surrounds, luxury steering wheel, touring suspension, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, power-adjustable pedals, paddle shifters and sport mode.
When you first step into the 300C Platinum, you immediately think that this is pretty darn luxurious. It's large, the Nappa leather looks great and the wood trim feels and looks upscale with its matte finish. But does it drive upscale? That's the real test this week.
Pricing: 2015 Chrysler 300 Platinum
Base Price: $43,895
Options: Hemi V8 & 8-Speed transmission -- $2,500; UConnect with Navigation -- $700; Safety Tec1 -- $595; Light Group -- $695;
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $50,180
There is no doubt that this is a large car. It feels large the moment you get in the car, either front or back. In the back the legroom is almost limo like and despite the look from the outside there is a lot of headroom as well. In the front adjustability is good in all directions, allowing drivers of all shapes and sizes to find a good driving position.
The front seats are very roomy, a little too much for someone of my size but they certainly add to that feeling of space inside the cabin. The centre console offers a dial shifter to change gears, an odd placement but it is easy to reach and operate. I say the placement is odd because that entire area would be better served as storage and the electronic shifter moved up onto the dash or by the steering column like Mercedes-Benz does it -- ironic since this vehicle was originally designed based on the E-Class chassis eons ago.
The interior certainly looks the part of a luxury car as well. The matte finish wood is luxurious and the padded Nappa on the door panels really adds to the air of quality. Of course my tester is equipped with the UConnect infotainment system, arguably one of the best infotainment systems in production -- as long as it doesn't get hacked.
This generation Chrysler 300 still has the gun-slit type windows, tiny side mirrors and poor visibility pretty much all around. Thankfully the back-up camera and blind-spot detection systems aid in keeping the driver away from danger, but I'm not a big fan, though the car does have its fan base as the car still sells.
Maybe what really sells the 300 is the engine -- the V8 powered sedan is a dying breed that Chrysler keeps alive in a few of their cars and in this case the 300C with the 5.7-litre powerhouse.
My other half drove the 300C and I asked her what she thought -- "It's powerful, I like it", she said. Uh, that's it? Yup, she likes that when you press that throttle pedal the car takes off with a thunderous roar. I won't lie, I like it too!
But when you are not using that thunderous powerhouse of an engine and you are just cruising down the highway the car is quiet as well. I won't say refined, because the suspension really lets this car down. If you live where the roads are smooth you won't have an issue and if the roads are straight even better.
But I have noticed quite a bit of rear-end hop over rough pavement, enough that if I was test driving this car from the dealership I probably would have made it five minutes before returning the car. It just does not feel planted if you are turning and you hit a bump, not a pleasant or luxurious feeling at all.
There is no getting around the size of this car. Around town it is a bear of a car, and it's just a pain to park and requires a lot of two- or three-point turns to back into parking spaces, but if you need or want the large vehicle, that's something you will have to live with.
Personally I am lukewarm on the 300C, it is fast which is great but it is unstable in corners where I like to have some fun. Of course if you plan on driving straight and hitting the highway there is nothing wrong with that and this car does it well, provided the road is not too choppy.
Fuel economy was reasonable for such a big and powerful car as I averaged 9.5 L/100 km this week and this car was driven a lot. Up to the track (not on), around town to do some shopping and back and forth to work as usual. With over 650 km on the tank there is still more to go before I return this car, it just keeps going and going. I won't enjoy the fuel bill....
The 300C - especially in V8 form - is an odd car in Canada where most cars sales are in the compact class and those looking for a powerful V8 are usually looking at performance cars or trucks. But this vehicle does provide some sense of luxury and a reasonable price for the content, especially the large engine.