The Chrysler 300C has won more than its fair share of admirers since it exploded into view in 2005. It seems that those with a taste for the alternative have bought into the bad-boy American bruiser.
Three years on, and now separated from its former German owners, Chrysler has given the 300C a mid-term brush-up, thankfully resisting the temptation to mess around with its styling – arguably its strongest selling point. In fact, if you be forgiven for thinking Chrysler hadn't changed a thing…
A Chrysler 300C SRT Design with the diesel engine? That’s new…
Yes, it is, because previously, the SRT Design pack was only available if you bought the Hemi-headed V8. However as most 300Cs sold in Europe are powered by the Mercedes-Benz 3.0-litre V6 diesel, Chrysler realised that it was missing a trick not combining the bad-ass looks of the V8 with the relative frugality of the oil burner.Click 'Next' below to read more of our Chrysler 300C SRT-D first drive
As well as putting that right, the facelift has ushered in a few other changes – the dashboard makes use of higher quality plastics, and features a new centre console. LED mood lighting, more cup-holders and a lightly re-profiled boot lid might not sound like great shakes, but it’s just enough to keep the 300C reasonably fresh.
So it looks great on the outside, but does the interior measure up now?
Sort of. It’s true that the 300C’s interior lacked the visual drama of its chunky exterior, and the quality wasn’t quite what it should have been, but much can be forgiven when one takes into account the ticket price.
It delights and disappoints in equal measure. Seating and visibility are excellent, and the beautiful instrumentation is a joy to behold. In terms of room for heads and legs, it’s a little lacking in the rear, but up front it’s distinctly commodious with an excellent driving position and commanding view.
However, the fitment of a MyGig hard-drive audio system, as well as all the usual toys cannot detract from the bargain basement plastic copiously used inside.
The V8’s a hoot to drive, but where does that leave the CRD?
Closer than you’d think is the honest answer. That Mercedes-Benz diesel may be lacking in gears, and forgot to attend the final term at finishing school, but with 215bhp and 376 lb ft of torque on tap, one thing it’s not short of is pace. It needs a concerted shove on a long throttle to get going, but once rolling it’s effortlessly quick, hitting 60mph in 7.6 seconds.
For an 1900kg saloon it handles responsively, combining low levels of body roll with direct steering and prodigious levels of grip. You can thank the SRT sports set-up for that. You’ll never forget about the 300C’s bulk, but that merely adds to the drama – and having so much road presence has its advantages when clearing the outside lane of any motorway you care to mention.
Ride quality could be better, but the fitment of 20-inch alloys has always vexed chassis engineers searching to suppress road noise and surface imperfections. Needless to say, the boys at Chrysler’s Street & Racing Technologies Division failed to meet that challenge…Click 'Next' below to read more of our Chrysler 300C SRT-D first drive
The 300C divides opinions like few big saloons – you either love or hate the brash stateside image it portrays. However, dig beneath that imposing exterior, and in CRD form, it makes a surprisingly rational case for itself. More importantly, it’s brimming with all the character you’d ever need at a very reasonable price.
The 300C may be no class-leader, but objectivity be damned when it comes to something that makes you feel so good.