If you’re an individualist, and enjoy standing out from the crowd, there has really only been one car to be seen in for the past few years: the Chrysler 300C. And now there’s a new version of the big, mafia-esque American-based behemoth.
It’s still massive. In fact, the new 300C is even bigger: it’s actually longer, wider and lower than the outgoing version. And there’s only one powerplant available, the 236bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel.
When the original 300C arrived in the UK back in 2005, it did so with a Mercedes core of E-class technology. Now though, Chrysler finds itself under the wing of Fiat and that has brought with it a number of changes.
Out has gone Merc’s V6 diesel to be replaced by one using Fiat Multijet 2 technology. The other important improvement is to the interior, where the previous utilitarian US-based cabin has been replaced by something much more sophisticated.
And while the car is badged Chrysler 300C in North America and the UK, it will appear on mainland Europe badged the Lancia Thema.
Confused? Well the simple explanation, is it’s all part of the master plan hatched by Chrysler and Fiat: a plan which has already seen the smaller Lancia Ypsilon and Delta come to the UK badged as Chryslers.
Clear as mud, eh?
Anyway, back to the 300C. Its styling retains the imposing deep sides, small windows and a large grille of the outgoing model. The newcomer though has a refreshing air of sophistication.
Wheel arches are more pronounced and the headlamps and large grille are more subtle. It’s also one of the quietest cars in this class, thanks to new acoustic insulation, sound-deadening glass and wheel well liners.
Ease the big beast of a thing on to the road, and you’re rewarded with a car which is surprisingly smooth, quick and quiet. The five-speed auto transfers the power more than adequately, and the ride — even on massive 20in alloys — is pretty good.
In fact, its new damping and suspension settings allows the driver to hustle the car through some fairly tight corners at surprising speeds. Place it on a long straight stretch, and the distances simply disappear.
There’s no denying the new 300C is something of an effortless, relaxed motorway cruiser. It will definitely have the business buyer scratching his chin, seriously considering it as a viable alternative to the Teutonic ‘establishment’.
Capable of a smudge under 40mpg, the 300C hits 62mph from standstill in 7.4secs, continues to a top speed of 144mph and emits 185g/km of CO2.
Inside the calm cabin, there’s acres of space. The chrome dials look fantastic, and the new 8.4in touchscreen interface — which controls the audio, climate, communications and car functions — is great.
The new 300C comes in a choice of two generous trim levels: Limited and Executive. Starting at £35,995, the Limited includes cruise control, DAB radio, bi-xenon headlamps, leather upholstery and a reversing camera. Step up to the £39,995 Executive, and you get those 20in alloys, adaptive cruise control, a large glass sunroof, a leather-wrapped dashboard and a host of other luxury features.
Ok, overall, in a number of areas, it may fall a bit behind rivals from BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar, but the 300C will, most definitely, get you noticed.
In the UK, Chrysler expects just 450 300Cs to be sold this year, with another 750 across the whole of 2013.
Want to stand out from the crowd? Grab yourself a Chrysler 300C.