BIG American endures
Carsguide takes a look at how the Chrysler 300C, released in 2005, rates as a used vehicle.
THERE was a time when US cars reigned supreme over the Australian motoring landscape. It was a time when bigger was better, when automotive prestige was measured by the metre.
Many Australians in the 1940s aspired to own an American car of the sort being built and sold by Holden and Ford. But by the time Chrysler released the 300C in 2005, there had been a seismic shift in the market and US cars were regarded as gas guzzlers that were poorly built and less refined than European or Japanese rivals.
But the 300C had a number of things going for it that would help it find its niche: US cars still had a following here, it was built and backed by DaimlerChrysler and it was distinctively styled.
The 300C was a surprise hit. With its big, bold chrome grille, tall slab sides and chopped roofline it caught the imagination of a section of the local motoring public.
Spend time in a 300C and it quickly became evident it was a head-turner. People might not necessarily have known what it was, but they sure took notice of it.
Chrysler was aiming to steal a slice of the big-car market from the Fairlane/LTD and Statesman/Caprice, and it succeeded.
Under the bonnet was either a 183kW 3.5-litre, single-overhead-camshaft V6 or a 250kW 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that had cylinder deactivation to save on fuel.
Chrysler claimed cylinder deactivation, called MDS, was good for 10 to 20 per cent savings. The V6 was given a four-speed auto; the V8 a five-speed auto with a slapstick manual change.
On the road, the 300C was surprisingly unAmerican. Instead of the expected sloppiness, it steered with precision and feel, braked confidently and the handling was well balanced and reassuring.
Not such a surprise was the 300C’s ride, which was comfortable and absorbent with good isolation and little noise intrusion, even on its 18in wheels and tyres.
Standard gear included climate-controlled airconditioning, cruise control, fog lamps, CD stacker, remote central locking, full electrics and leather trim.
For a V6 pay $30,000-$36,000 for a 2005-2006 model; add $5000 for a Hemi V8. Though style is an attraction for 300C buyers, the allure of the Hemi V8 probably makes a better resale proposition than a V6.
It’s early days in the life of the 300C, but owners report few problems so far. Nothing significant has come to light; the issues reported are minor and have been addressed by Chrysler.
The softish ride can result in damage to the underbody and suspension if driven too fast over speed humps, so make note of any noise coming from the suspension.
Replacing low-profile tyres fitted to large diameter aftermarket alloy wheels can be expensive, so check tyre prices before deciding on a car with big wheels.
Mass is a great protector when it comes to a crash, and the 300C is well endowed in that area. It weighs more than 1800kg with airbags all round.
Being a large car, the 300C is not as agile as a smaller one, but its chassis, courtesy Mercedes-Benz, is well balanced and electronic stability control helps out. The anti-skid brakes are powerful and its steering lets the driver know what’s going on, so it has a powerful primary safety package.
A heavy car with a big V8 isn’t a recipe for low fuel consumption, so be prepared for a shock.
The cylinder deactivation system on the Hemi V8 is a mitigating factor in its favour, but the 5.7-litre V8 will still be thirsty. Expect 12-15 litres/100km.