– Exquisite exterior styling
– Fair ride and handling
– Good multimedia tech
– Dull interior styling
– Slightly outdated drivetrain
– A bit pricey for what is offered
The Chrysler 300 was the first fruit of the American carmaker’s buyout by Mercedes-Benz. Suddenly, they had access to all sorts of German platforms, and Chrysler was quick to pick up the older E-Class to start as a base of heavy modifications for what would become the rebirth of the classic rear-wheel-drive all-American full-size sedan. It was Chrysler’s most successful product half-a-decade ago, but sales are what they used to be, although the car has aged gracefully. Overshadowed by the Hemi V8 models were the V6 versions, which were not sold in the GCC until 2010. The repackaged new-for-2010 Chrysler 300 Limited is the only V6 variant to make it to our shores.
The V6-powered 300 Limited comes in only one loaded trim level, and looks just like the V8 models. Fitted with a mesh grille and 18-inch chrome wheels, the only way to distinguish a V6 from a V8 is by the rear badge and the lack of exposed exhaust tips. It is a weirdly handsome car by any stretch of the imagination, and the cheapest way to appear richer than you really are. Many even mistook it for a Bentley.
The chop-top look hints at compromised cabin space, but it isn’t so, especially since we stepped into this car after testing a Camaro. The staid cabin itself is trimmed with abundant soft-touch materials on all upper door and dash panels. Further trim bits include black stitched leather, chromed plastics and, more interestingly, transparent “wood” that is obviously fake but uniquely cool in effect. All of it is decently put together, although like with most cars nowadays, a couple of panels here and there don’t exactly line up.
Cabin space is very good, with adequate legroom and even headroom. But unlike the 300C SRT-8 with thick sports seats, this 300 Limited has thinner front seats with less bolstering, and therefore offers more legroom for rear passengers. The lounge-style seats are comfortable and the interior feels spacious enough, but only as much as a midsize sedan. That would be fine, except that the 300 is a fullsize sedan on the outside. But the boxy body has its benefits, such as a ridiculously massive luggage boot. Other storage facilities include a front cubby, front door pockets, a boot luggage net and four cup-holders.
Standard equipment includes front and side-curtain airbags, a fairly strong dual-zone automatic a/c, LED ambient lighting, remote start and a MyGIG amazing in-car entertainment system with CD/MP3 capability and a decent 6-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system. Fitted as part of this touchscreen system are a navigation system, a Bluetooth phone, a USB port and a 20 GB hard drive capable of storing music and photographs. The cool bit is that a lot of the functions are fully voice-controlled and it recognised our accents, unlike similar systems from Ford, and the available voice commands are listed on the screen as needed.
The Limited’s engine isn’t as high-tech as the stereo though, as the 3.5-litre V6 engine is only good for 250 hp at 6400 rpm and 340 Nm of torque at 3800 rpm, while mated to an aging 4-speed automatic transmission. Surprisingly, the 1729-kilo sedan moves with verve in city driving, probably due to short gearing and good low-end torque. Our 0-100 kph test netted a time of 9.1 seconds during our May test, but it actually feels quicker, and has wholly adequate power for overtaking and jumping into crowded roundabouts. Our test fuel economy was about average for a V6 at 14 litres/100 km, reasonable given our overzealous driving style with this car.
Driving the 300 is stress-free, especially since our tester was equipped with optional rear parking sensors from the Mopar accessories catalogue. Otherwise it is a big car, and parking definitely would’ve become an issue. The 300 is built for the open highway; it is a comfortable cruiser that rides slightly firm like a German car, but soaks up all bumps like an American car is expected to. The wind noise becomes noticeable at speeds above 100 kph, but it is easy enough to ignore.
While not a sports sedan in V6 form, the 300 is entertaining in its own way. There is moderate body roll on sharp turns that gets eliminated quickly once the car is straight, instead of swaying like typical luxo-barges from olden days. The steering is extremely light and offers almost no feel, but it responds well enough to inputs. The ABS-assisted disc brakes do fine. There is fair grip from the 225/60 tyres wrapping the 18-inchers, though they start squealing as early as on any front-wheel-drive car, as the 300’s rear-wheel-drive character seems to have been tuned towards safe understeer, especially with stability control on.
So unlike its ferocious 300C SRT-8 sibling, the 300 Limited is a comfortable highway cruiser for those who want nothing spicier from their daily drive. There are enough tech gadgets and luxury features to keep it interesting, while even the aging drivetrain is unexpectedly adequate. Even if expensive for what it is, the Limited is the best way to stand out without dropping money on a Hemi or even a real Bentley.
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