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Chrysler 300C 2006 review

Styled like nothing else on the road, the Chrysler 300C makes a major statement about your taste in cars.

The Chrysler 300C is selling up a storm in Australia, often topping its class in the upmarket sales stakes, so it makes sense for it to offer a model with a turbo-diesel engine. Thus upstaging its arch rivals Ford and Holden by becoming the first diesel engine in today’s under-$100,000 luxury-car class in Australia.

Borrowed from Mercedes-Benz, the engine used by Chrysler is a 3.0-litre V6 common-rail diesel. It is relatively light in weight as it uses aluminium cylinder heads and block.

It has a variable-geometry turbocharger to give it more efficient running at a variety of engine speeds. A 3.0-litre engine with a turbo is roughly the equivalent of a 5.0-litre non-turbo powerplant.

So it comes as no surprise that the performance figures from the diesel engine are closer to those of the 5.7-litre hemi-V8 version than to the base-model Chrysler 300C with its 3.5-litre V6 petrol-power

Acceleration figures for the diesel are impressive, it takes 8.6 seconds to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h, compared with 9.9 seconds for the 3.5 litre petrol V6. The big grunt V8 is, naturally, the winner taking just under seven seconds for the 100 km/h sprint.

Economy is, of course, the real story with any turbo-diesel engine. The Mercedes/Chrysler unit uses only about two-thirds as much fuel as the V8 and about a quarter less than the 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine.

2006 Chrysler 300C. 2006 Chrysler 300C.

During our test period we found the Chrysler diesel used about eight to nine litres per 100 km, in country driving. That figure rising to a still-respectable 10 to 11 litres per hundred when used in suburban conditions.

From the driver’s seat the turbo-diesel 300C really doesn’t feel altogether different to a petrol engined car. There's just a hint of diesel rattle at idle, but underway it’s quiet and refined. That glorious surge of torque that’s such a feature of diesel engines is a pleasure to experience. Though, as always, the grunt fades when the engine’s not doing much over 4000 rpm.

Styling remains the biggest reason of all for the success of the Chrysler 300C. The big ‘gangster’ car immensely impressing most who see it – though there's a small band out there who say they really hate the looks.

There's nothing wrong with that; any designer worth their salt will tell you that while they would like everyone to love their products, the one thing they don’t want is for the public not to have an opinion.

This Chrysler is a big car and it really feels like it from the driving seat. You’re a long way from the front of the 300C. Firstly there's a large dashtop that’s almost to people-mover dimensions, then a small letter-box windscreen, followed by a very long bonnet. Driving in tight traffic can feel awkward at first but you soon get used to planning your moves.

It’s much the same when you look backwards, the tail’s a long way back and, despite its height, is not visible from the driving seat. However, much of the guesswork is removed by the standard parking sensors.

The big Chrysler has good legroom, headroom and shoulder space for four adults, though we feel the rear seat could be larger in a car of this size. There's sufficient width in the centre of the back seat for a fifth adult, though the transmission tunnel gets in the way of foot space so it’s probably best to consider the seat as a kid spot.

There's a huge boot under that big square tail. It has a nicely regular shape and can carry bulky items with ease. But there's a long stretch under the back window to reach the front of the boot. The rear-seat backrest can be folded down, in a 60/40 split, to enable long loads to be carried.

Ride comfort remains good and there's no real feeling of having a heavy diesel engine up front. That’s partly because of the lightweight materials used, but also due to the fact that the car has been designed to cope with a big V8 in the first place.

2006 Chrysler 300C. 2006 Chrysler 300C.

A car of this size is never going to be nimble in corners, but there's good road grip and the 300C is willing enough if asked to change direction quickly. Steering feel is rather soft in the American manner and the car can be surprised by big lumps and holes at times.

The next few months are going to be interesting ones for the Chrysler 300C. After too many years of conservative shapes, Holden's new WM range of long-wheelbase cars finally has the sort of styling that competes head on with the big Chrysler. So the competition is going to be fierce as Chrysler fights to hold onto its coveted market leadership.

And competition between the big boys is always good new for buyers.

Model Range

300C 3.5-litre four-door sedan - $53,990
300C Touring 3.5-litre five-door wagon - $56,990
300C CRD 3.0-litre diesel four-door sedan - $57,990
300C Hemi 5.7-litre four-door sedan - $59,990
300C CRD Touring 3.0-litre diesel five-door wagon - $60,990
300C Hemi Touring 5.7-litre five-door wagon - $62,990
300C SRT8 6.1-litre four-door sedan - $71,99

Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

3.5 V6 3.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $10,450 – 14,300 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 3.5 V6 Pricing and Specs
5.7 Hemi V8 5.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $8,888 – 19,990 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 5.7 Hemi V8 Pricing and Specs
CRD 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $11,110 – 15,290 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 CRD Pricing and Specs
SRT8 6.1L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $19,980 – 22,990 2006 Chrysler 300C 2006 SRT8 Pricing and Specs
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