It’s big, squared off, has wheels so large that if they were pizza pans they’d feed small countries and a style that stamps it as definably American. A Wheel Thing gets its pseudo-gangsta on with the Chrysler 300C Luxury.
The Driven Heart
It’s somewhat ironic that the Chrysler 300C has a similar sized engine to a competitor’s vehicle now given the last rites, Holden’s Commodore, at 3.6L and V6 in configuration. Power is lineball with 210 kilowatts each whilst torques are a hairs breadth apart with the Chrysler twisting 340 Nm and the Holden 350Nm. However, whilst the Commodore went on a diet, the 300c tips the scales at over 1800 kilos and it’s noticeable on road, even with a more flexible eight speed auto compared to the smooth but just six speeds in the local brew. Ironic in that the demand for large cars in a sedan shape have plummeted here in Oz yet seem to be doing pretty well in the States, including the new Chevrolet SS aka a Holden export…The auto is smooth when under way yet somewhat clunky moving from reverse to first, as the gearbox hesitates whilst selecting gears. The gear lever is one I detest, being an electronic shifter and selection mode highlighted in blue LED backlighting on the top; with no weight to the movement back or forth, it’s too easy to find Neutral when you wanted Reverse, or Park from Drive when you wanted Reverse. It’s annoying and not excessively pleasurable by any measure.
The Office Space
Heavy in feel it might be and part of the reason may be the cosseting the Luxury version provides. Chilling and heating for the console drinks holders, an electronic sunshade for the rear window, heating/venting for cooling driver/passenger seats are just a few of the noteworthy and useful features. It’s ergonomically sound, roomy enough for the rear seat passengers (with their own aircon and heating controls) and has two main highlights; the cobalt blue dash dial lighting and the dominant centre dash infotainment system, incorporating an eight inch touch screen allowing access to items such as the heated seats and sun blind; it also provides a cracker of a reverse camera picture. Of note and for the wrong reason, is the map display, looking as if it’s fallen out of a comic painted in primary colours. It’s not intuitive, not user friendly and for A Wheel Thing that makes it dangerous to use. Memory seating, comfortable entry and exit, a decent sized boot, good quality plastics to look at and feel add to the ambiance. Included as standard and probably not necessary for the Aussie market is a heating system for the steering wheel; understandable for a New York winter but of more concern is the chrome ring set into the wheel. That gets steaming hot for Aussie conditions and more than once I found myself wishing for a glove to hold the tiller. Of dubious inclusion is a wood trim from just under the display running almost full length for the console. It looks ok but it’s neither garbage nor fantastic as it looks somewhat out of place against the black leather and plastic.
Being a keyless start and entry vehicle the 300C Luxury has a push button for start, a touch pad on the inner part of the driver’s door handle which unlocks the doors and buttons on the handles for the driver and passenger to lock. All very simple and handy.
The overall profile hasn’t changed from model one; the tail lights and headlights have and it’s a subtle yet welcome change. LED daytime running lights at the front in a C shape, redesigned from the dual headlamp configuration of its predecessor match a tidied up LED lit rear set that adds a touch of modern class to the blocky, squared off shape. Slab sided it may be but it’s an imposing presence, especially with the vehicle provided being clad in a gorgeous pearlescent white. Rolling on wheel arch filling twenty inch alloys also added to the 300C’s presence.
The rear has a spoiler deftly folded into the upper part of the bootlid’s sheetmetal whilst the taillights kick off a strip that runs along the bottom; it’s tidy, stylish and effective. The front is bluff, upright and features the iconic seven bar Chrysler grille plus a pair of driving lamps at each bottom corner of the bumper. A solid crease line front to rear draws the eye to the long and low stance, typical of its boulevarde cruiser credentials.
On The Road
Eighteen hundred plus kilos, a surprisingly unwilling engine and transmission combo and a heavy steering feel do not a nimble car make. In right or left 90 degree turns the front would always be wide over the line, never feeling precise enough to be where the tiller was pointed. Although not lethargic in acceleration, there was always a hesitancy off the line and felt as if the foot operated park brake was on a couple of notches. When pressed hard the movement was quick enough but never felt as if it was pressing you back in the seat. There’s a muted rasp from the exhaust, a thrum and bark from the bonnet but nothing to aurally excite. Oddly, the dash display didn’t show the selected gear unlike the Cherokees tested recently; a small point but one worth mentioning. Under way the Luxy ploughs through and over bumps, relegating all but the most pernicious of bumps to the also-ran’s bin, yet never feels as if it’s supple and smooth. Gear changes are barely noticeable but sometimes feel as if the gear is held longer than it should be, especially on a downhill run. Under brakes there’s minimal ABS feedback and the 300C pulls up reasonably well , with no noticeable fade after repeated hard stops.
The overwhelming feeling that A Wheel Thing has was of feeling let down, that a great expectation was met with a shoulder shrug and a softly spoken “meh”. The 300C Luxury has some nice and user friendly touches, such as the simple yet effective rear window sun shade, the mostly user friendly touchscreen, yet never really impresses; the wide handling, the neutral ride quality and the overall feeling of heaviness count, in A Wheel Thing’s opinion against it. Certainly, if a driver was after something that sat flat on the road, had an imposing presence and definitely some nice luxury features that Australia’s big cars don’t show off, the 300C fits the bill….but, if you’re a driver and not a fan of merely steering as a passenger the 300C is not for you. With the range kicking off from $43K driveaway it’s also under pressure now that Holden has dropped the price on the wonderful VF Commodore range. For more details in the 300C, go here: http://www.chrysler.com.au/300?gclid=CPitnpui0rsCFU1QpAodxykAKA