Chrysler 300C Executive

August 2012

picture of car from the front

A revised and more curvaceous front end has updated the car's look

Ratings

Overall Rating 6Overall rating

Value for money Rating 9Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 6Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Impressive array of equipment gives ownership satisfaction
  • Stylish and distinctive detailing inside and out set the car apart
  • Smooth V6 diesel engine offers excellent cruising ability
  • Large boot is useful for business or personal luggage

Gripes

  • Poor fit and finish for some of the interior wood trim
  • Five-speed automatic gearbox is old-fashioned and harms efficiency
  • No low-CO2 engine option
  • Excess weight makes itself felt on the road

Chrysler makes a point of doing things differently when it comes to their cars. The 300C has been the brand's flagship for some years in a marketplace dominated by German firms and well-known models. This revised 300C aims to refine the original car and give it a little more mainstream appeal in an intriguing attempt to win custom.

The 300C is a medium-sized executive saloon in the same vein as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series, but is imported to the UK in much lower volumes. This is the second, more curvaceous iteration, following the bold, angular and very American model that was built from 2004 to 2011.

The range is kept simple for Europe, with just two trim levels sharing the same V6 diesel engine. It aims to appeal to company car users with its bold styling, useful technology and a huge list of standard equipment on both models. Its suspension settings have been tuned to better suit European roads, too.

Its key selling point is its wealth of technology that on rival cars is either a costly optional extra or is simply unavailable. Even the entry-level 300C Limited has heated front and rear seats, placing it comfortably in front of the German establishment. But there are areas where the car falls short, like its five-speed automatic gearbox.

The 300C is a heavy car and feels it on the road, but it does have a commanding presence and feels substantial in a way that fits its character. It isn't designed to be as dynamically accomplished as those cars it competes against, but it does have an undeniable American charm, both to look at and to drive.

Our verdict on the Chrysler 300C Executive

This is an alternative choice in the sector and Chrysler is playing to that, doing things as differently as it dares to. Slightly more European lines gives the game away that the firm is trying to gain ground on these shores with the new 300C, and there's plenty of substance to back up the style. It's far from perfect but it's worth a closer look.

Costs
Costs rating 6

This is one are where the 300C struggles. Its engine can't match advanced four-cylinder options from the German brands for efficiency, and nor is it especially cheap to buy. It does represent excellent value for money thanks to all of its luxury equipment, but in terms of fuel, benefit-in-kind, road tax and residual values it falls behind where it needs to be.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

There is no shortage of space and storage inside the 300C, and it's used well. For example, the two amply-sized cupholders in the centre console are both heated and chilled, helping to keep drinks how the maker intended. The glove box is a good size, the boot is capable of carrying more than you think, and the only slight disappointment is that the door pockets are smaller and more restrictive than they could and arguably should be.

picture of car from the rear

The rear maintains a businesslike stance and is especially distinctive

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

Arguably the car's biggest surprise comes in the smooth, pale blue glow of the instrument cluster, which is both very pretty and slightly out of character with the rest of the interior. It's lovely to look at, nonetheless, and the large central colour touch-screen does an excellent job of displaying media information, settings and other data. It's just a little too far away to be easily reachable and usable while the car is moving.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

The front seats are wide and plush, with a full real leather covering. With plenty of adjustment for the driver's seat in particular, four heated seats, ventilated front seats and good ride quality, a quartet of adults can ride very comfortably in the 300C. A fifth person won't be so lucky, due to the full-length transmission tunnel that leaves a rear middle passenger straddling it and impinging on the legroom of passengers in the other rear seats.

Car security
Security Rating 8

As well as remote central locking and keyless entry, the 300C has an internal fuel filler lid release to avoid fuel theft. There is also a system within the key to help prevent theft of the key. Speed-sensitive door locks secure the doors once the journey is under way to prevent theft of the car at a standstill, like at traffic lights. The alarm and immobiliser are Thatcham category one approved.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

There is an excellent spread of airbags covering the front and rear passenger compartments, along with compulsory active safety systems like stability control and ABS. A tyre pressure monitoring system is standard as well, along with parking sensors front and rear to help avoid low-speed bumps. The Executive model comes with a forward collision warning system and a blind spot warning system as well.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 6

Europe, a heavily diesel-centric market as far as executive cars go, is likely to result in comparatively low sales for the 300C against its North American figures, and as a result Chrysler has not invested in an advanced drivetrain. The diesel V6 is smooth, but the gearbox is lacks the finesse of rival systems. A 2.1-tonne kerb weight helps to give an admirable straight-line ride quality, but counts against it in the corners.

picture of car interior

Extensive real leather and wood can be found throughout the interior

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

There are several major factors in the car's favour in the eyes of families. The comfortable ride and seats, vast array of luxury and practical equipment, big boot and wealth of safety kit are all good things. The sheer dimensions can count against it, though, making it less manoeuvrable in car parks and town centres. The length of the doors also makes it harder to access the rear seats to strap children in if space beside the car is tight.

First car appeal
First car Rating 1

Unless the styling or image were of particular appeal, it's hard to envisage the 300C having any appeal for a new driver. It's large, heavy, has restricted visibility and sits in a relatively high insurance group beyond the reach of drivers without either many years of no-claims bonus or a company picking up the bill. It would be too expensive to buy, too costly to run and too difficult to handle safely for someone without plenty of varied prior driving experience.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 5

Image is simultaneously one of the 300C's greatest strengths and weaknesses. It's obviously very different and that's worth a great deal in a marketplace crowded with the same old models, but often there is an expectation that buyers need to be seen in and associated with the established brands. Some of the materials and production processes are not as good as they should be, with some areas of stretched and creased leather a particular failing.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

As a long four-door car the door apertures themselves are very wide, making it very easy to get in and out. However, the doors themselves are also quite long and can make it more difficult to find a stable hinging point in a car park without hitting the car next door. The boot is a good shape with recesses between the wheel arches and the back of the car for accessories. The opening is large and allows easier access than in some other medium-size saloons.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Using the touch-screen stereo interface is something of a challenge on the move, but while stationary is a novel and interesting system. Adjustments for bass, treble, fader and balance are there, but sometimes the screen can seem too far away to be effective. There is a noticeable difference in quality between the standard Alpine audio system and the Haman Kardon upgrade; optional only on Executive models and controlled via the same touch-screen system.

picture of car in detail

The saloon-type boot is more than big enough for most types of owner

Colours and trim

The 300C is available in a fairly small number of low-key hues that reveal its business-like demeanour. Black is not the obvious choice any more, though, with the shapelier front end suiting something less oppressive like dark metallic silver. Inside there is contrasting stitching in the leather, but the colour and material combinations don't match quite well enough from door to dashboard. Equally, some of the wood trim fits poorly and should be better finished.

Parking

A reversing camera is standard fit, allowing drivers to partially overcome the problems caused by the high boot line and extremely thick C-pillars. In combination with large door mirrors it simplifies bay parking. Its dimensions do count against it though, at well over five metres long and 1.9 metres wide. Finding spaces wide enough to house it and allow the doors to open is a challenge. Parallel parking is sometimes a better bet as long as the driver is comfortable using only the camera and mirrors.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Diesel engine options - 3.0-litre (236bhp). Transmission options: five-speed automatic gearbox .Trim levels: Limited, Executive.

 

Alternative cars

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Efficient diesels and high trim levels available for similar prices

BMW 5 Series More dynamically inspiring, but only with myriad options added

Audi A6 A well-known package but sparse in terms of standard equipment

Lexus GS Smooth, advanced and good-looking with first-rate reliability record



Over 1,200 more car reviews online

All the reports since 1990 are available on this site, just search by make and model below.

Step 1 > Select make Alfa Romeo    Aston Martin    Audi    Austin    BMW    Bentley    Cadillac    Caterham    Chevrolet    Chrysler    Citroen    Daewoo    Daihatsu    Dodge    Ferrari    Fiat    Ford    Honda    Hyundai    Isuzu    Jaguar    Jeep    Kia    Lada    Lamborghini    Lancia    Land Rover    Lexus    Lotus    MG    MINI    Maserati    Mazda    Mercedes-Benz    Mitsubishi    Nissan    Perodua    Peugeot    Porsche    Proton    Renault    Rolls-Royce    Rover    SEAT    Saab    Skoda    Smart    Smart Car    Ssangyong    Subaru    Suzuki    Toyota    Vauxhall    Volkswagen    Volvo    Yugo   

 

August 2012