One mean ride gets some manners

Kap Maceda Aguila
A RAPPLER contributor takes the new Chrysler 300C on a test drive

THE NEW 300C IS less imposing, more sleek

MANILA, Philippines – The typical sedan is expected to be sleek, aerodynamic and sexy — jackknifing through roads like nobody’s business and making a few heads turn along the way.

But the Chrysler 300C is not a typical sedan. It evokes brawn, not whistle-bait finesse. It’s a hulking presence, in a muscle car kind of way.

You sort of don’t know what to make of it, actually. 

Truth to tell, some people guffawed when the first iteration (manufactured in 2004 as a 2005 model) hit our streets. The general consensus was that it looked like mafia transportation — a big, loud brute announcing the arrival of someone important.

The full-sized sedan gave off an air of invincibility — it seemed almost bulletproof, even.

The front fascia evoked old-school Benzes and, well, snub-nosed revolvers. When you spot it roaring behind you, you’d be forgiven for getting antsy. The 300C — with its gigantic grill — looks ready to ingest your vehicle.

A BEAMER FRINGED BY LED runners, encasing bi-Xenon HID lights

But it gets much better.

The all-new 300C, first released in 2011, is at once a more potent and less severe version of the Mafiosi ride.

Engineers have redesigned it with more contemporary eyes, and you might say the car has lost a bit of its gangster chic. That’s surely welcome news.

The most obvious change is on the contentious grill. The crosshatching design has been ditched in favor of 7 chrome horizontal slats, which better emphasize the dynamic trapezoidal shape of the assembly.

The headlights have also been reimagined from wide-eyed beamers into partially squinting keyholes fringed by LED runners. Within are bi-Xenon HID headlamps so you can confidently zing those pesky morons who insist on high beam even as they approach you.

There’s intelligence in all of this, too. Chrysler throws in its Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) system that automatically aims the headlamps in the direction you’re firing, er, driving. Additionally, it “computes” speed and steering wheel angle to “determine headlamp projection — straight, 7 inches inward and 18 inches” and automatically levels that aligns vehicle-to-road pitch. 

THE PROMISE: POWER AND fuel efficiency

Under the bonnet throbs a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, good for 292 horses. But the car brand’s pride is in its “segment-exclusive 8-speed automatic transmission” that promises both power and fuel efficiency — the latter a rare quality in bigger vehicles. Chrysler says the 300C can muster a frugal thirst rate of 13 kilometers per liter — again, a class-leading claim. This betters the previous model’s figure of 11.4.

Although it is not bulletproof, the vehicle achieved the highest rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US. The independent agency “recognizes vehicles with outstanding crashworthiness in front, side, rollover and rear crashes.”

The 300C serves up safety standards and other niceties such electronic stability control, full-length side-curtain airbags, seat-mounted thorax airbags, driver’s knee bag, front-row reactive head restraints, hill start assist (which prevents rollback), rain brake support and ready alert braking.

One of the more useful and thoughtful technological features on the 300C is Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) — that lights up triangular icons on the side mirrors — along with selectable audible warnings, when unseen vehicles are passing you. Enabled by radar sensors, this is particularly useful when changing lanes, and offers a measure of protection from reckless speeders and other inconsiderate drivers.

Equally welcome features are Rear Cross-Path Detection (RCP) which monitors vehicles and objects “in perpendicular relationship” to the car when moving backwards, and the Forward Collision Warning (FCW) which audibly warns the driver of a quickly approaching object or vehicle.

The interior design, particularly the dash and center console, looks so good you can take a bite out of it. Blue-white tinged lights fringe the analog instrument gauges, and a pretty white-faced clock sits above the huge 8.4-inch interactive touchscreen display of the proprietary Uconnect system where you can control most everything.

YOU'LL FEEL LIKE A king sitting on a throne when sitting in front of these

The 300C is so thoughtful, so well-bred, that it can even heat or cool your drink in specially-designed cup holders.

All told, the 300C is more luxe than lethal or, perhaps, a little more bladed weapon than bludgeoning bat. Either way, it’s a swell ride that’s big on comfort, power and finesse. –


Kap Maceda Aguila is a freelance writer who contributes to several print and online publications. He loves cars, music, bowling and going on dates with his wife — not necessarily in that order.

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