Story by Benjamin Greene
Originally published by Dupont Registry: http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/NewsCenter/NewsCenterDetails.aspx?mmysid=4060
Chrysler rolled out an all-new 300 sedan for 2011 to replace the aging original that debuted for 2005. The original 300 had character in its veins. Its chopped-top look gave it 1930s gangster appeal. Its bold, nearly upright square grille had many making Bentley and Rolls-Royce comparisons to the extent that some owners modified their cars to look like it came from one of the luxury marques.
The 2011 300 doesn’t pop out in a crowd like the original. Its grille drops some inches in size and loses its vertical slats. Its windshield is more raked, and its roof no longer has the chopped-top look. It is still prominent enough to standout next to the competiton from Japan, but that’s not saying much. The new 300 loses much of what made the old 300 so endearing for mass appeal. But that is exactly what may draw people to the new 300. At quick glance, it resembles a German sedan; it could compete with the Hyundai Genesis for fooling people into thinking it is an S-class Mercedes.
It feels like a Mercedes inside too. It doesn’t offer the vast amount of tech toys that a new Mercedes offers, but that also makes it less complex. It is simple and classy. We likened it to a stripped E-class or an older S-Class. Our test car featured real-wood inlays, satin chrome trim that looked like aluminum, and an abundance of soft-touch materials. Fit and finish is top notch. The instrument cluster features an attractive ice-blue illumination, which even stood out in the bright Florida sun. The lighting continues into the center console with a chintzy analog watch featuring the ice-blue background sitting front and center. Down below is a touchscreen that also features a blue hue. The large 8.4-inch touchscreen is easy to navigate and redundant knobs and switches underneath are straightforward and allow for quick changes. Rear passengers have plenty of room and the trunk is spacious; the 300C can accommodate a party of four with their luggage.
Under the hood of the 300C is a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine delivering 363 hp. That’s three more horsepower than the outgoing 300C, but the 2011 model has nearly 200 more pounds to move. Chrysler quotes a zero-to-60 mph time of less than six seconds. If we had to guess, the extra pounds make it a couple tenths slower to sixty compared to the car it replaces. The motor muscle comes with an inspiring old-muscle-car sound. Our only complaint would be from the transmissions, which would sometimes stick to a higher gear despite slamming the throttle. Its ride is compliant, the steering is a tad heavy, and cabin noises are well subdued.
The 2011 300C sports the same 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway as the outgoing model. The gain in highway mileage is from a four-cylinder mode, which delivers 20 percent better fuel economy.
For 2011, Chrysler offers the Chrysler 300, 300 Limited, 300C, and 300C AWD. For 2012, a 300S brings sporty cosmetic changes and a 300C Executive adds more luxurious features. The next model year also marks the return of the hi-po 300 SRT8 with a massive 465 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque.
363 hp @ 5,400 rpm
394 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
5.9 seconds (estimated)
130 mph (limited)
The new 300 is more German-like in its execution
New design loses some of the old car's exterior character