Of all the luxury sedans that have come out of America, the Chrysler 300 needs a special mention. The 300 is Chrysler's full-size top-of-the-line luxobarge that debuted at the 2003 New York Auto Show, following which it was put on sale in 2004. For Chrysler, the 300 was an important car back then as the company hadn't produce a rear-wheel drive full-size luxury sedan since 1981. As a consequence, Chrysler's reputation was at stake and a lot of it was riding on 300's shoulder. Suffice to say, the Chrysler 300 met all the expectations, and then some…
Some Excerpts from a Rival
Based on Chrysler's rear-wheel drive LX platform, the 300 shared a number of components and features with the W211 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. To name a few, the rear suspension design, steering setup, electrical, automatic gearbox, all-wheel drivetrain, etc., are some of the components that are shared with the Mercedes E-Class sedan. The Chrysler 300 also features a double wishbone front suspension that is derived from the W220 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The Chrysler 300 was offered in a number of variants upon its launch. That said, even the lower end variants of the car came decently equipped with features, meaning whichever trim you'd go for, there's always that sense of luxury in the car. For instance, the base 300 featured a 2.7-litre EER V6 petrol engine developing 190PS. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed automatic gearbox while an all-wheel drive version was optional. The Canadian-spec version of the car came standard with a bigger 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine. In 2008, Chrysler renamed the 300 as LX (the platform it's based on).
Feature wise, the car came equipped with standard 17-inch wheels, classy wheel covers, disc brakes on all four wheels, single-disc stereo with MP3 player, AUX connectivity, electrically-adjustable driver seat and a four-speed automatic transmission.
The Chrysler 300 Touring (sedan) model also used a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine producing a peak horsepower of 250PS and 340Nm of torque. Power transmission duties are carried out by either a 4 or 5-speed automatic transmission depending on the model year and drivetrain.
In terms of features and equipment, the Touring models came fitted with 17-inch aluminium wheels, AM/FM radio with CD player and AUX input, traction control or Electronic Stability Program (ESP), remote keyless entry, leather seats, and SIRIUS satellite radio. There was also a Limited model that was offered the same year featuring the same V6 engine as on the Touring model. The Limited model, however, came shod with 18-inch chrome clad aluminium wheels and anti-roll bars.
Now coming to the most popular iteration of the car – the top-of-the-range 300C. The 300C is perhaps the most revered and successful variant of the Chrysler 300. In many ways, it is a combination of Germany's idea of a luxury vehicle (which means meeting the top standards in car making) and American muscle (V8 motor and sheer brute force).
For starters, the 300C featured a 5.7-litre HEMI V8 petrol engine under the bonnet. Unlike other gas-guzzling V8s though, this motor incorporates MDS (multi-displacement system), meaning the engine can automatically shut 4 cylinders of 8 when it detects less power is needed. Like, when the car is cruising down the motorway at a constant speed or while ambling around in town, the engine will save fuel using the MDS.
However, once you mash the throttle to the floor, it will be a different story altogether; all the eight-cylinders will work in full force developing 340PS of maximum power and 530Nm of torque. Sending the power reserves from the engine to the rear wheels is a 5-speed automatic gearbox. This would turn the 300C into a typical muscle car, albeit all the occupants and passengers will be cocooned in the luxury environs of the car.
The other advantages of using a HEMI engine was that it included a pushrod induction tube, making the 300C more fuel efficient and quicker since it pulls and pushes the air into the engine's induction system. In addition, each cylinder came fitted with two-spark plugs so as to promote efficient fuel/air mixture burn, which in turn, reduced emissions.
Speaking of the car's highlights in terms of features, the 300C came fitted as standard with 18-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, MyGIG Infotainment system and SIRIUS Satellite Radio and backseat entertainment TV screens. In 2009, Chrysler revamped the car with a few updates, major among which was the 20PS increase in the power output of the new model, taking the horsepower count to 360PS! If that does not float your boat, then there was an even more powerful version of the car, called the 300C SRT-8. SRT is the performance arm of Chrysler, which stands for Street Racing Technology.
Simply put, what they do is transform normal Chrysler and Dodge cars into borderline monsters. The 300C SRT-8 was no exception- it's fitted with a 6.1-litre HEMI V8 petrol engine developing 425PS and 560Nm. 0-100km/h could be covered within 5 seconds in this car!
And the Award Goes to...!
The Chrysler 300C was not just about V8 noises and muscle power. It was also one of the most awarded new cars in the market upon its launch. Among some of the accolades, it won the 2005 Motor Trend Car of the Year award while also making it to the 'Ten Best Cars' list on Car and Driver magazine in 2005 and 2006.
In addition to that, it bagged the North American Car of the Year and Canadian Car of the Year Best New Luxury Car awards. Awards aside, the 300C also became a cult-car between 2005 and 2010. It was listed in the "25 Most Iconic Hip-Hop Cars" mainly because of its popularity among rappers. What's more, even Barack Obama, the current president of the US, had one in the mid-2000s.
Chrysler also offered the 300 models in right-hand drive versions in European markets. There was in fact a V6 diesel engine that was offered in addition to the V6 and V8 petrol engines in Europe.