The skinny: The well-appointed Chrysler 300 is poised to fill the 'large RWD sedan' shoes that the Commodore and Falcon are preparing to vacate. And, fill those shoes it will. It might be big and heavy, but is capable on-road, well-featured inside, and offers brilliant comfort.
Vehicle style: Large sedan
Price: $54,000 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 210kW/340Nm 3.6 litre 6cyl petrol | 8spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.7 l/100km | tested: 11.3 l/100km
Chrysler’s striking 300 large sedan has come in for a mid-life update. This time around the range is pared back, but the luxury focus is plainly obvious.
Until the hulking (and Australia only) SRT model arrives later this year, the 3.6 litre Pentastar V6 becomes the sole engine available, with diesel and ‘standard V8’ models dropped due to tapering demand.
For now Chrysler offers just two variants; 300C and 300C Luxury. Names aside, neither is short on luxury appointments
Styling sees a deeper grille with ‘floating’ Chrysler badge up front, a restyled front mask, and LED foglamps joined by a new rear bumper incorporating stylised chrome exhaust finishes and new LED tail lights.
Safety is boosted by radar-guided cruise control that can come to a complete stop, autonomous emergency braking, and lane-departure assist - now made possible thanks to electric power steering.
Our introduction to the new 300 came via a curious mix of roads, from the suburbs to the freeways of Sydney, as well and a stretch through the iconic Royal National Park. Refinement, comfort and dynamics all thoroughly put to the test.
This is no American car of the past though. Ride, handling and refinement are thoroughly modern and this newest 300 makes an interesting alternative to established large car luxury.
- Proximity key with push-button start
- Heated and ventilated front seats with power adjustment and memory
- Heated outboard rear seats
- Dual-zone climate control
- Front and rear park sensors, reverse camera with dynamic grid lines
- 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment screen, satellite navigation
- 7.0-inch user configurable instrument screen
- Heated and cooled front cup holders
- DAB+ digital radio.
Inside, the 300 range wears one of two leather trims. Both are trimmed in glove-soft Nappa leather trim, but the Luxury (the only version available to test) also wears deep quilting on the seats and door cards.
Dashboard furnishings stay much the same as before, but hand-sanded open-pore wood embellishments and stitched leather covering the dash and door trims give a decidedly upmarket feel.
The redesigned audio and climate controls below the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen provide shortcuts to commonly used functions, with in-depth adjustments carried out via the on-screen menus
Driver’s get a newly designed three-spoke wood and leather steering wheel on the base spec 300C.
Moving up to 300C Luxury, the steering wheel gains a full leather wrap, and both versions come with a heated rim to keep your hands warm on frosty mornings.
Acoustic glass on the windscreen and front door glass is also standard on both models. If that isn’t enough isolation from the outside world, a standard nine-speaker Alpine audio system, or optional 18 speaker Harman Kardon premium audio are available.
Powered driver and front passenger seats look and feel like sofas, with soft leather and cushioning making every drive a relaxing one. Both models include heated and cooled front seats, with heated outboard rear seats.
Boot space remains unchanged with 462 litres available, expandable via 60:40 split fold rear seats.
ON THE ROAD
- 210kW/340Nm 3.6 litre naturally aspirated petrol V6
- Eight speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Short Long Arm front, five-link independent rear suspension, gas monotube dampers
- 18-inch polished alloy wheels (300C) 20-inch polished alloy wheels (Luxury)
- Electric power steering
Chrysler has simplified both the model line-up, and the engine range for the 300. Gone are the previous 3.0 litre turbodiesel and 5.7 litre petrol V8 choices.
Instead, only the 3.6 litre petrol V6 carries over. Outputs are unchanged with 210kW of power and 340Nm of torque, while fuel consumption is rated at 9.4 l/100km for 300C and 9.7 l/100km for Luxury.
As a weight-saving measure the rear axles and axle housing are made of aluminium. Parasitic friction losses are also better managed as a result.
Chrysler’s acoustic work has paid off; at idle the engine is near silent and perfectly smooth. On the road, wind and tyre intrusion are minimal, making the 300 an ideal big-mile cruiser.
While the launch route wasn’t too ragged, it becomes clearly apparent that the 300 is built for comfort. The suspension has no trouble eradicating even larger bumps without 'jarring' through the wheel or upsetting occupants.
The biggest mechanical difference between 300C and 300C Luxury is wheel size: 18-inch and 20-inch respectively.
With no lack of comfort on the big wheel set-up its safe to say the standard 300C should offer near magic-carpet levels of comfort.
And then, suddenly, we arrived at a string of corners - not exactly the natural habitat of an American cruiser. Cornering grip belies the big limo’s size - it will stay level and track faithfully beyond what we had expected for a car of its weight and size and 'family' market intentions.
With a kerb weight just shy of 1900kg, the V6 has its work cut out, and while the 300 may not be a performance car, it’s certainly no slouch.
Now selected via a rotary ‘E-shift’ dial in the centre console, the quick-witted eight speed auto offers smooth gear changes and well-selected mapping.
Select the S position and engine and transmission responsiveness are improved with gear shift-time reduced from 400 milliseconds down to 270.
300C Luxury also has an extra Sport button in the centre stack that couples the S-mode with a sportier calibration for the electric power steering, and keeps the car in manual mode ready to be shifted via forged steering wheel paddles.
Sprint times are obviously going to favour the coming SRT model when it arrives, but, as an all-rounder, the 300 impresses on-road for a car of its size and comfort.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With bold front and rear styling, a slender glasshouse and an air of ‘the businessman’ about it (you know what I mean), the 300C is unmistakable.
Updates to the new model’s looks don’t damage that iconic American facade, but do help keep things up to date. Inside, the good bits (like Uconnect) aren’t messed with, but the presentation steps up a notch.
Out on the road though is where the 300 surprises. It simply shouldn’t feel so good behind the wheel, yet it does, all while keeping passengers comfortable and isolated from outside interruptions.
It won’t suit all tastes, nor does it pretend to - but the 300 strikes the right notes for buyers of big sedans.