Chrsyler 300C 2.7 V6 (2009) Driven
Let’s not mince words here: Chrysler isn’t doing well these days. With a sales drop of fifty percent from 2007, critics were quick to point to the American company’s overreliance in sport utility vehicles and light-duty trucks at a time when gasoline prices were spiking to record prices. And that was before the global financial crisis set in. Despite all of their troubles, time spent behind the wheel of the Chrysler 300C makes you forget all of it. It reminds you not of Chrysler’s financial misfortunes, but that it’s a maker of fine automobiles. Since its Philippine launch in 2005, the 300C is still every bit the attention grabbing pimpmobile that’s soon become the default choice of politicians and brides alike. A recent facelift as well as the availability of a new engine should continue to make things pretty fresh.
A walk around the revised 300C makes you wonder what has changed. The so-called facelift is almost invisible that all but owners of the pre-facelifted model would recognize. Those who keep tabs of every car’s vital statistics would realize that the new 300C has grown in length: 4,999-mm to 5,015-mm. Credit this increase to re-shaped front and rear bumpers. At the front end, the new bumper with more holes gives visual aggressiveness to the already not-so meek 300C. Much more noticeable changes have been done at the back such as the re-shaped trunk lid with integrated spoiler and third brake light, the new rear combination lamp cluster as well as the rear bumper which have been given a more tapered profile.
The 300C’s hotrod appearance surely gives it plenty of stares, but it’s a mixed bag when it comes to driving in everyday traffic. The straight and long hood give excellent front visibility, making this car surprisingly easy to maneuver around tight Manila roads despite its 1,881-mm overall width (the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is actually narrower!). However, the small greenhouse and miniscule rear view mirrors hamper visibility elsewhere, a pain when you have to parallel park this behemoth.
Much more relevant to the almost invisible facelift is the availability of a new engine inside the 300C: a much more modest 190-horsepower 2.7-liter V6. Fortunately for the Philippine market, the reduction in engine displacement doesn’t translate to a loss of appearance and features. With the exception of a chrome tail pipe finisher, everything that the 3.5-liter V6 version has outside, the 2.7-liter also has. This means the W-rated 225/60 R 18 tires and the HID headlamp package are also standard.
The similarities between the mid-range 3.5-liter V6 and 2.7-liter V6 continue inside the cabin where even this entry-level 300C boasts of complete safety and creature comfort features. Replacing the cheap-looking two-tone black/gray combination interior for a much more subtle black on black, the 300C is a nice place to be in. The seats are covered in fine Seton leather and are electronically adjustable 8-ways with lumbar support no less for both front occupants. The power adjustable pedals have been shown the door, but at least the four-spoke steering wheel is still electronically adjustable for both tilt and reach making for a perfect driving position every time. There’s even a two-setting memory system that’s tied to the key system enabling families who share driving duties to save preferences such as audio, mirror and seating preferences at the touch of a button. Luxury leather aside, the 300C also features a dual-zone climate control with rear vents, cruise control and an excellent sounding Boston Acoustics 8-speaker system with MP3 and auxiliary input jack. The once exclusively V8 Tortoise Shell accents have also been made standard across the line. In fact, the only difference between this entry-level 300C and its higher-priced siblings would be the absence of the MyGIG internal hard drive (to store music and digital photos), the 6-disc in-dash CD changer and the power moon roof.
While CATS Motors, Chrysler’s official Philippine distributor still offers the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with the multi-displacement system as well as the 3.5-liter V6, the new 2.7-liter V6 variant puts it squarely into Toyota Camry/Honda Accord territory. Priced at P 2,350,000, the 2.7-liter V6 still provides ample grunt and pulling power. With 190 horsepower and 254 Nm of torque, the entry-level 300C still accelerates very well. The engine remains fairly muted with the exception of a gulping sound when the accelerator is released at high speeds. While all other 300C models have a 5-speed automatic with a manual shift override (AutoStick), the 2.7-liter V6 still uses the old 4-speed unit. However, it still is smooth and responsive—shifting without drama and returning a surprisingly excellent 7.57 km/L mileage during our weekend of driving.
More good news can be found underneath the 300C’s extravagant body style. The world-class rear-wheel drive suspension has been given a slight overhaul to improve low-speed ride and bump absorption. On higher speeds, this car feels stable, quiet and comfortable though there’s not enough feedback going into the cabin to really say that this is an enthusiast’s car. That said, those who prefer the sheltered, isolated life will no doubt like the 300C’s solidity and quietness.
It has been said time and time again that if Chrysler created more products in the 300C mold (i.e. nicely styled, excellently engineered), then they won’t be in the mess they would be in right now. And after getting re-acquainted with this car, I have to definitely agree with this observation. Though products such as the Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Nitro are good in their own right, the 300C is on a different page altogether. This is one car that’s auditor-friendly but still provides enough style and substance to be enjoyed.
By Ulysses Ang | Photos By Ulysses Ang