If you’re one of the latter, and the thought of becoming mobile theatre fills you with an embarrassed dread, then stop reading now. The Chrysler 300C is so not for you.
It’s a car that demands attention. People point as you drive by and, if you’re parked, crowds gather.
It’s as though the ink that drew the lines of this car was made of pure testosterone to the point that, like the most overly-muscled weightlifter, it becomes almost cartoonish in its macho posturing.
Many drivers will be attracted to its steroidal shell but will they ultimately take the plunge rather than play safe with a German executive car?
It would help if the interior was better. The cabin has a certain art deco charm but delve deeper and there is not much substance. Some of the materials struggle to stand up to scrutiny against the competition.
The gearlever surround, for instance, is extremely cheap and wobbly while the velour and plasticky ‘faux tortoise shell’ (that’s what Chrysler calls it) trim seems a very old-fashioned combination. It may seem nit-picking, but at this level an all-pervading sense of quality is imperative, and the 300C comes up short.
What it is not short of is equipment. Alloy wheels, cruise control, leather seats, parking sensors suspension leveling and xenon headlamps all come as standard, and that’s a level of kit not available much below £30,000 in a German executive car, much less at the £25,000 the 300C costs.
So you get huge amounts of attention that cannot be bought anywhere else for the money and Chrysler has been very generous with the toys.
Trying to park the 300C is something of a nightmare though. Apart from the fact that a crowd of tourists will have gathered to take photos of it, the sheer bulk, heavy steering and hopeless vision front and rear make it like trying to back a rhino onto a stool, even with the help of parking sensors.
The 300C uses the 218bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel also found in Mercedes-Benz cars and, with 387lb-ft of torque, it needs every last ounce of strength, because this is a very heavy car. It’s a smidgeon off two tonnes although Chrysler is claiming a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds. I can’t believe that because it doesn’t feel that quick off the mark, but when you’re sitting in a vehicle with the density of a bank vault, perhaps you are sheltered from reality a little.
Other drivers dive aside with a deference not seen this side of an S-class: one sighting of that vast silver grille and low frowning windscreen bearing down on them is enough to do the trick.
It drives OK, despite its size, and if you’re in the back, you have limousine levels of room.
In the end, this car is too ostentatious for me but I like the fact that Chrysler is bold enough to make it and for the right person – the love-the-limelight type – it’s a fantastic car that I can’t recommend enough.
Chrysler 300C 3.0 CRD auto
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £25,542
CO2 emissions (g/km): 219
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 32%
Graduated VED rate: £210
Insurance group: 16
Combined mpg: 34.9
CAP Monitor residual value: £8,700/34%
Depreciation 28.7 pence per mile x 60,000: £16,842
Maintenance 4.0 pence per mile x 60,000: £2,400
Fuel 12.88 pence per mile x 60,000: £7,728
Wholelife cost 44.95 pence per mile x 60,000: £26,970
Typical contract hire rate: £605
All figures based on 3yrs/60,000 miles.
At a glance
Three rivals to consider
FINDING competitors for the 300C is difficult because of its strong combination of low front-end price, big engine and generous equipment. So we’ve gone for the big three: A6, E-class and 5-series. Immediately apparent is the fact that all three are more expensive, with smaller engines and considerably less kit. But they all have such presence and brand appeal that the 300C is still going to have its work cut out.
THE Audi A6 scores a good victory in the service, maintenance and repair cost comparison, with a three-year/60,000 mile figure of only three pence per mile. That means a total bill of £1,800, which is far ahead of the rest. The Chrysler comes second and would cost £2,400 while the BMW and Mercedes-Benz are slightly more expensive than the large American – £48 and £72 more respectively.
THE BMW was always likely to win this comparison because it has the smallest engine here, but it certainly cannot hold a candle in performance terms to the 300C or A6. The big, heavy 300C with its 3.0-litre diesel would cost nearly £1,200 more in fuel over 60,000 miles than the 520d. The 2.7-litre A6 puts up a decent showing because its Multitronic gearbox carries no fuel economy penalty so you get a torquey engine with near 40mpg.
THE 520d’s combination of small, efficient engine and image means that it is always going to be popular with used buyers and this is reflected in its good residual value showing, with a CAP predicted RV of 45% after three years/60,000 miles. The Chrysler’s poor RV is mitigated by its low front-end price, which helps it perform better than the E220, which holds a massively higher percentage of its value at 43% but is hindered by its expensive list price.
DESPITE the fact that it is nearly £2,000 cheaper than the next car in our comparison, the 300C is still the most expensive to run thanks to poor residuals and high fuel costs. As a result, it would cost £26,970 – £2,700 more than the 520d. The A6 puts in a decent showing and even the E-class is slightly cheaper than the 300C, which begs the question: which would most drivers actually prefer for more or less the same money? A Mercedes-Benz or a Chrysler?
EMISSIONS AND BIK TAX RATES
A 40% taxpayer would find the BMW and the E-class the cheapest at £248 in BIK tax. The 2.2-litre E-class has a bigger engine than the 2.0-litre but only has 150bhp, compared to 163bhp in the BMW. Despite its cheap P11d price, the big 3.0-litre engine’s emissions of 219g/km of CO2 means the 300C would cost the same driver £281 while the Audi would be the most expensive with a monthly bill of £283.
I FEEL this verdict is a bit pointless. If a driver really wants a 300C, no amount of reasoned argument about residuals or fuel bills is going to stop them. And that is a huge strength of this wonderfully individualistic car. But in a more logical world, its powerful, smooth engine, quality interior, space and decent running costs make the A6 the best all-round choice.
Click on the next page to see pictures of the 300C