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Muscle peach. Image by Chrysler.

Muscle peach
The updated Chrysler 300C is as cool as ever, but now even more appealing.


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| First Drive | Banbury, Oxfordshire, England | Chrysler 300C SRT-Design |

The Chrysler 300C brought Sopranos-style gangster chic to the streets of Britain and has gone on to be a huge sales success. Now, we have a mildly revised model that concentrates on upping the quality of materials and perceived luxury while still delivering badda-bing value.

In the Metal

Chrysler may have facelifted the 300C ever-so slightly, but it has been canny enough to leave the best looking executive saloon's 'face' well alone. The exterior changes are confined to new rear lights and relocating the third brake light from the rear screen to the boot lid, nestling just under a discreet lip spoiler moulded into the boot. The alloy wheels grow to 18-inch as standard and there's now a roof-mounted antenna instead of an aerial.

Chrysler has also introduced the 300C SRT-Design, which takes all of the exterior and interior styling of the outrageous 6.1-litre V8 SRT-8 and mates it with a more sensible 3.0 V6 turbodiesel. Effectively, the SRT-Design is Chrysler's equivalent to the Sport versions of BMW's 5 Series. With the SRT-Design, you get 20-inch alloy wheels with wheel arch spats to cover their girth, along with a chrome mesh grille that's commonly referred to as the 'Bentley' grille. Inside, there are the SRT-8's leather sports seats, carbon fibre trim and standard satnav. As with other revised 300C models, the SRT-Design now has a soft-touch dash covering and mildly revamped instruments and centre console with cupholders. All 300C interiors are now finished in slate grey leather as the only option.

What you get for your Money

Aside from the bestest, baddest looking executive saloon or estate on the market, the 300C is generous with its specification. The 3.0 V6 turbodiesel putting out 215bhp is the only mainstream engine option. The only petrol unit on offer is the mighty 6.1-litre Hemi V8 fitted to the SRT-8 that pummels 425bhp from its fuel supply. Setting the SRT-8 aside, the V6 diesel is good for 34.9mpg and drives through a smooth-changing five-speed automatic gearbox that is standard fit. There's ESP traction control and six airbags for safety, while luxury is taken care of by climate control, standard leather seats, and a fine CD stereo. All 300Cs come with 18-inch alloy wheels, unless you choose the SRT-Design with its 20-inch items, Xenon headlights, rear parking sensors and metallic paint.

Driving it

There's a real feel-good factor to driving the 300C. From the big armchair driver's seat you look out at the world through the pillar box windscreen and simply relax into waft mode. Despite the low window line, vision is good and it's easy to pilot the lengthy Chrysler on country roads and in town just as easily as it is to slip up motorways. The change to 18-inch wheels as standard would normally introduce a less composed ride, but in the 300C it helps iron out surface ripples more effectively than it did previously. It's not quite as plush a ride as in a Mercedes E-Class, but it's more than comfortable for long days in the saddle.

For such a sizeable car, the Chrysler 300C handles itself like an older Mafia hit man who has stayed in shape. It's not going to win any prizes on a race track, but it hangs on with determined poise. The steering is not as precise as a BMW 5 Series', but it's light when parking and has just enough feel on twisty roads to make the 300C fun. The 3.0 V6 turbodiesel and five-speed auto are ideally matched. Gear changes are quick and go largely unfelt unless the throttle is pushed right the way into the carpet. There's also a manual override option to give the driver greater control, but it's only real use is for descending steep hills as the auto 'box does a fine job of handling the engine's power. With 215bhp and 376lb.ft on tap, the 300C has brisk performance and refinement is up with the best in class. There's still a trickle of wind and road noise at faster motorway speeds, but the Chrysler is generally a hushed place to travel.

Worth Noting

One of the main reasons for choosing a 300C - other than its distinctive looks - is the vast amount of space it provides inside. Chrysler proudly boasts that the 300C offers more rear seat space than a BMW 7 Series, which means rear passengers are afforded considerable amounts of room to lounge in. The well shaped rear seat is comfortable and the slightly raised base gives good vision without compromising headroom. Up front, it's the same story and the boot offers more than enough capacity for the Sopranos one-way trips to the countryside.

Also worth mentioning is the strong value for money the 300C offers. Its standard equipment list puts most rivals' to shame, including as it does leather seats, climate control and metallic paint. This has helped the 300C achieve excellent residual values in the used car market, which makes the Chrysler a sound choice for those paying out of their own pockets rather than company coffers. It also helps that the 300C returns decent (if not class-leading) 34.9mpg combined economy and 215g/km carbon dioxide emissions.


In a sector of the market dominated by the Holy Trinity of German executive brands, the 300C remains a welcome flash of American fresh breath. Chrysler has wisely left the 300C's looks alone and concentrated on improving quality, which it has achieved, as well as strengthening the value for money proposition the 300C has always represented. If you're in the market for an executive saloon or estate, the 300C may be a more unusual choice, but it's all the more appealing for that reason.

Alisdair Suttie - 26 Mar 2008    - Chrysler road tests
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2008 Chrysler 300C specifications: (SRT-Design)
Price: £32,495
0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
Top speed: 143mph
Combined economy: 34.9mpg
Emissions: 215g/km
Kerb weight: 1910kg

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C. Image by Chrysler.


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