- We like...What you get for your money
- We don't...It's just so darned big
Big, burly American looks (a bit) like a Bentley and delivers plenty for the moneyBuy a 300C, and you might, just might be able to fool your neighbours into thinking that your new car’s a Bentley. The resemblance is there, to make even hardened car-spotters double-take.
This Chrysler has the beef and attitude of an aristo’s limo, but at a fraction of the price. At £27,495, it’s a lot for the cash: heavy-fronted, imposing and very much American once you look past its glitzy grille.. It’s a love-or-hate car: you’ll adore it because The BMW 5-series you’d otherwise buy is too dear and too sober-looking, or you’ll hate it because it sends the wrong messages about US-style excess.
But beyond the 300C’s chrome and big alloys, it’s not a bad car. The 3.0 V6 engine is a diesel, one that also propels many a Mercedes E-class. It’s rapid and smooth, keeping agreeably quiet unless you belt it. It’ll nudge up to 35mpg overall, while its CO2 emissions are 215g/km – high enough, but not sufficiently bad to nudge you from this autumn into the £25 a day zone for London’s congestion charging.
Inside, there’s a lot to take in: leather seats (powered and heated), two-zone climate control, rain-sensitive wipers, rear parking sensors, heck, even a leather-wrapped wheel with a faux-tortoiseshell chunk at the top. But in contrast to the pages-long list of extras you’ll be handed when ordering an Audi or BMW, Chrysler lists just two: a stereo upgrade plus satellite navigation costing £1800, or the same plus a sunroof, Californian walnut cabin trim and an 1800-watt stereo for a giddy£2600. Against this, some switches and cabin materials look rough’n’ready for an executive saloon.
To drive, it’s as smooth and as steady over bumps as an old-school Mercedes, which figures, because the suspension has much in common with the current Merc E-class. The engine raises no more than a faint rumble unless you push hard, while wind rustle and tyre roar mostly stay outside, leaving the cabin hushed and restful.
The 300C’s high-set seat and windows accent its size but its long, wide, slabby bonnet also help you to place it on the road because you can see just where the car stops and air begins. At just over 5 metres long and two wide, it’s bigger than BMW’s 5-series or a Mercedes E-class and it feels it: there’s just too much car to edge into a multi-storey space without breaking sweat.
All the same, it is easily cheaper than a similar BMW, Audi or Merc. But that’s only half the story. Most 300Cs will be bought as company cars, so monthly lease costs will be critical. Low price should mean cheap leasing and the 300C’s £573* puts it £120 below a BMW 535d SE and £150 under a Mercedes E280 Elegance. But you can put yourself into an Audi A6 2.7 TDi SE and save £30. So it’s reasonable value, although the A6’s lower costs might well tempt us away.
Meanwhile, Chrysler says the car’s toughness and rarity means second-hand values sit within reaching of the heights attained by and German rivals. While that’s the case, it’s a fair investment.
For us, the 300C’s likeable and distinctly different from the pack. But would you want to drive a car quite that big day on day? Borrow one for a weekend before you buy, and you’ll know.
- Engines3.0 V6 diesel
- 0-60 mph7.6
- Insurance groups16
Motors.co.uk value verdict: