My first date with Chrysler’s all-new 300C executive sedan started out like an unfulfilling one-night stand. At first acquaintance typically American in concept, the car looked over-sized, with heavy steering and a gas pedal that seemed to resent being pushed anywhere near the metal.
It was my girlfriend who succumbed to the vehicle’s hidden charms first, proclaiming the big beast easier to drive and far more comfortable than her beloved little Honda Civic.
Suffice to say that, at the end of a busy week that linked motorway and big city driving with narrow country lanes, I was well and truly smitten and did not want to return the car at the end of my tenure.
In every aspect it is light years ahead of the damp squib that failed to ignite the British market when first imported more than a decade ago.
Just look at it: no longer the American gangster-mobile, with a squashed roof that looked as if an elephant had sat on it, the styling, though still overly chrome laden, is now much closer attuned to European tastes.
Better built, safer, even more lavishly equipped and more efficient than its predecessor, the new Chrysler 300C offers the level of engineering, design, materials and driving dynamics that European buyers expect. Combining those elements with American style, personality and value for money, the 2012 model is clearly intended to appeal to both head and heart.
Nor is it a gas-guzzler. The efficient and commendably smooth running three-litre diesel will whisk you to 62-mph in a commendably quick 7.4-seconds yet can achieve a very frugal 30.5-mpg in the combined cycle.
In total, the new model boasts 65 safety and security features,
Unlike rivals offering a baffling array of engine sizes and trim levels, the new Chrysler 300C, which is available this side of the herring pond in two versions, promises the perfect power output, with two well-judged specifications. The new 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel benefits from Fiat Group Automobiles’ groundbreaking MultiJet 2 technology to provide a class-leading marriage between effortless power and fuel-saving efficiency.
Whether in Limited or Executive guise, this is a very well equipped car. Much of the technology that rivals sell as premium priced optional extras features as standard equipment on the Limited model. Rain Brake Support, which helps keep the brake pads dry for better stopping power in poor conditions, is unique to this class of car. Ventilated front seats and heated rears, the Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, a superbly clear 8.4-inch touch screen display, mirrors that darken automatically to limit headlight glare, cruise control, and 18-inch wheels are all standard on the Limited model.
The Executive version has a Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system, radar Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and a two-panel panoramic sunroof, as well as the forward collision monitoring system and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Suspension settings match those of such rivals as Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Jaguar – giving smooth handling without ever compromising ride comfort.
It’s not just a good car; it’s excellent – and only inbuilt prejudices against American cars will stop it from being up there with the winners in its market sector.