2012 Chrysler 300C Hemi
– Stylish exterior
– Cabin space and features
– Very comfortable ride
– Soft handling character
– Very heavy curb weight
– Some kooky electronics
The Chrysler 300C, alongside its Dodge Charger sibling, gained a well-earned reputation as the coolest car of its kind when it debuted half a decade ago. How many other V8-powered rear-wheel-drive sedans are there on the market nowadays that look as butch as these?
The latest model is a major reworking of the previous version, even though it simply looks like a minor facelift. Still based on the previous platform, the 300C now has a sharper-raking windshield, larger side windows, a softer front-end with integrated LEDs, and a pointier rear end with metal-lined tail lamps. And it still comes with the obligatory chrome bumper trim, chrome window lining and 18-inch chrome wheels.
The cabin design is completely new, with more premium materials and nicer colours. The dashboard and door panels are largely made up of soft-touch surfaces, while the “wood” and “leather” are both very convincing alongside the real aluminium trim bits and very pretty gauge cluster. But look harder, and some of the finishing is uneven, while a couple of panels have sizeable gaps for food and insects to get into.
Still, the ambience is very much upscale, and you’d think you are in a car that’s more expensive than it really is. The cabin space is excellent, with good front and rear legroom, enough headroom and even a sizeable boot with bag hooks, though arguably, the space is only slightly more than that of a typical midsize sedan. The spacious effect is enhanced by the hardly-bolstered seats and the panoramic glass roof.
On the tech front, the 300C benefits from the new multimedia system we first saw in the latest Dodge Charger, housed within a big 8.4-inch touchscreen display. With big icons and colourful graphics, it is easier to use than Ford’s SYNC, although we didn’t play with any voice commands. Our test car did not have the navigation feature, but it did have Bluetooth and USB connectivity, neither of which worked with our phones or memory sticks, for whatever reason. Other features include leather upholstery, powered front seats, rear-window sunshade, adaptive cruise control, auto HID headlights, front and side-curtain airbags, tyre-pressure monitor, keyless starter button with remote start, rear camera with parking sensors, door pockets, covered heated/cooled cup-holders, and a dual-zone a/c with rear vents that worked great in warm March weather.
The 5.7-litre Hemi gets an update for the new model too. Now churning out 360 hp at 5150 rpm and 527 Nm of torque at 4250 rpm, but still mated to an aging 5-speed automatic, the motor sounds good and pushes well even from highway speeds, but there is no real kick when taking off from idle. This was confirmed when it only managed a 0-100 kph time of 7.2 seconds in our tests, likely because it only had 1200 km on the odo and barely broken in. We could do 6.6 seconds with the previous 340 hp model, so this new one has potential. It also managed 15.0 litres/100 km of fuel consumption, aided by cylinder-deactivation tech.
The ride is extremely smooth and quiet, easily among the best in its class, and no doubt helped by the meaty 235/55 rubbers on the 18-inch wheels. The engine growls only when the throttle is floored, but stays silent once it settles down to just above 2000 rpm at 120 kph. All-round visibility is also much better than before thanks to thinner pillars, while the rear camera makes parking less of a hassle. There’s even a blind-spot monitor that blinks and beeps when cars are out of sight in the next lane.
There is no floatiness in the ride, but moderate body roll is noticeable, and can be abrupt in quick direction changes as the car’s nearly two-tonne weight makes itself known, but thankfully it disappears quickly once the turn is over. The front tyres started squealing early as we sped up on our regular curving routes. The steering is slightly firm and fairly direct, but offers no real feel. The ABS-assisted disc brakes do their job pretty decently. But from what we gather, Chrysler has reserved the real sporting balls for the SRT8 model, as the 300C prioritises comfort over any sporting intentions.
The Chrysler 300C is a stunningly-capable luxury car, and as long as it is seen that way, there is nothing to find fault in, despite the minor niggle with the multimedia system in our car. Those looking for an actual sports sedan will either have to upgrade to the pricey SRT8 or take a look at the cheaper Dodge Charger R/T instead. Because there actually is a clear distinction between the sporty Charger and the luxurious 300C.
Current Model Introduced in:
Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
Observed Test Fuel Economy:
How does this compare to a full option V6 version? Will that be too slow due to the weight?