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Chrysler 300 2012 review

A raft of safety features has already earned the Chrysler 300 the top rating from the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

A new home and a new family waiting to move in – that’s what’s on the agenda for the Fiat Chrysler Group in Australia right now with the new, almost-finished HQ at Port Melbourne being the scene recently for the launch of the company’s latest 300 range of large sedans.

Value

Along with the new 300s come the first eight-speed automatic transmission in a large car costing less than $70,000, a choice of V6 petrol or diesel power, or V8 petrol, a dynamic suspension, more than 60 advanced safety and security features, carbon fibre and wood grain finishes and Napa leather upholstery.

Kicking off the Chryslers is the 300 Limited, then comes the 300C, the 300C Luxury and the range-topping SRT8. Prices start at $43,000 for the petrol Limited, the diesel adds $5000, and top out at $66,000 for the Hemi V8 SRT8.

Technology

Power is supplied by a choice of three engines – V6 petrol and diesel and a V8 Hemi petrol, all driving through the rear wheels.

The entry level 300 Limited is powered by Chrysler’s 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6 engine producing 210kW of power and 340Nm of torque. It’s mated with the all-new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, providing greater fuel efficiency with powerful performance via an all-new electronic e-shifter.

The motor, says the maker, will return fuel efficiency of 13.9 litres per 100 kilometres in urban driving and 6.7 L/100 km on the highway, covering the 0-100 km/h sprint in just 7 seconds. The V6 diesel, mated with the standard five-speed automatic transmission, returns 9.5 L/100 km in town and 5.7 L/100 km on the highway. 

With 550 Nm of peak torque on tap from a low 1800 rpm it will propel the 300 from rest to 100 km/h in 7.8 sec, on its way to a top speed of 230 km/h. Topping off the power plants is the all-new 6.4-litre Hemi V8, one of the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated V8s, punching out 347 kW at 6100 rpm and 631 Nm of torque at a low 4150 rpm. A combined fuel consumption cycle of 13.0 L/100 km, with carbon dioxide emissions of 303 g/km is claimed.

Design

I get the impression the cabin is more open than in its predecessor; an impression that’s backed up by the addition of a quarter-light in the rear doors resulting in a six-window design that, along with a lower belt line and thinner pillars, increases visibility by 15 per cent. The upper windscreen edge is 76 mm higher, providing improved visibility at traffic signals.

The Chrysler 300’s Electronic Vehicle Information Centre is an interactive colour display in the instrument cluster that allows the driver to select and customise  settings such as fuel economy, distance to empty, engine temperature, fluid levels and tyre pressure.

It’s well accepted by automobile manufacturers that cars without sufficient cupholders go nowhere. Centre console-mounted slots in the 300 range have heating (red lighting) and cooling (blue lighting) capacity.

As before, there’s nothing restrained about the exterior, a high beltline supporting a larger body-to-side glass proportion than before; flared arches providing a perfect frame for 18-inch (300 Limited and 300C) or 20-inch aluminium wheels (available 300C, standard 300C Luxury and SRT8). There’s chrome on every corner and then some.

Safety

A raft of safety features has already earned the Chrysler 300 the top rating from the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in front, side, rollover and rear crash tests. As well as Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control, standard safety features include full-length side curtain airbags, seat-mounted side thorax airbags, driver’s knee airbag, dual front seat belt pre-tensioners and front reactive head restraints.

With discs all round, ABS anti-skid brakes have Brake Assist, Ready Alert Braking and Rain Brake Support, the last of which gently applies brakes to dry out the discs when the wipers are working. Hill Start Assist holds the brakes on inclines to prevent the vehicle rolling backwards. Keyless entry is operated by the holder of the fob merely tugging the door handle. Doors close with an assuring clunk. Starting the engine is by means of a dash-mounted button when the foot brake is depressed.

Battery charge and tyre pressure monitoring impart an added feeling of security, while a reversing camera image is projected on to an 8.4-inch touch screen – the largest in class – with guidelines for easy manoeuvring in limited space.

Driving

All were tried out on a track and road day on and around Phillip Island in conditions that were more conducive to wading than driving. The rain was a constant companion throughout the proceedings, reining in performance on the track in an SRT8. Even so, the rear-wheel drive V8 showed its potential when powering out of corners, wheels spinning freely, the tail wagging enthusiastically. 

Easing off, the electronic stability control was quick to bring things back in order. On the road the 300C, in diesel and petrol versions, provided a smooth, quiet and relaxed ride. Any rough edges have been ironed out in design and development. The Yanks have come up with less tank, more carriage.

The feel and grip of the four-spoke thick-rimmed steering wheel have been enhanced and comes standard with tilt/telescope adjustment for driving comfort. The wheel incorporates cruise control or adaptive cruise control buttons on the front, audio controls on the rear. At night, HID Bi-xenon headlamps project three times the brightness of conventional headlights, while an adaptive system moves the beams from left to right in line with vehicle speed and steering wheel input and is self levelling in keeping with crests and dips in the road.

Verdict

Saad Chehab, Head, Chrysler Brand - Chrysler Group LLC, says: “The 2012 Chrysler 300 is built on the idea that luxury feels better earned - that those who worked hard to achieve their place in the world should demand as much as is demanded of them.” That just about sums it up.

Pricing guides

$18,997
Based on 40 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$10,990
Highest Price
$30,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
C 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $13,990 – 20,990 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 C Pricing and Specs
C Luxury 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $15,921 – 22,999 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 C Luxury Pricing and Specs
Limited 3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $16,999 – 21,990 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 Limited Pricing and Specs
SRT8 6.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $25,992 – 30,888 2012 Chrysler 300 2012 SRT8 Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$16,990

Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months

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