The Chrysler 300C offers huge space, imposing style and a vastly improved interior quality, for much less than its equivalent German rivals

The previous-generation Chrylser 300C disappeared from the UK last year when the new emissions regulations came into force, but the all-new version will arrive in Britain next spring, with improved styling and a luxurious new cabin. Technical improvements include a new eight-speed automatic transmission, optional four-wheel drive versions and a new suspension setup, which has been tuned specifically for Europe where the car will be badged as the Lancia Thema. Unlike the previous model, no estate version will be offered but the company is promising it will signifanctly undercut its premium rivals.

Our pick:Chrylser 300C 3.0 CRD Multijet (236bhp) 4dr

Styling

The brash, Mafioso styling of the previous-generation model has been toned down for this new version, but the Chrysler 300C will still make an impact on arrival. With a high shoulder-line, short overhangs and the option of imposing 20-inch alloys, it has strong road presence. It now features C-shaped LED running lights at the front, and a single piece of chrome runs along the rear bumper, joining the rear light clusters together. Inside, cabin quality has vastly improved. Most of the major controls have been replaced by a 8.4-inch touchscreen display, which controls everything from the heated seats to the electric sunblinds, and soft leather and high quality plastic replace the cheap plastics of the outgoing version.

Driving and Performance

The UK will only get one engine option, a 3.0-litre V6 diesel which will be offered in two states of tune. The lower-powered variant gets 187bhp and 440Nm of torque, with the flagship getting 236bhp and 550Nm respectively. That’s good for a top speed of 149mph and a 0-62mph sprint time of just 7.8 seconds – impressive stats for a car of its size, and consequently the 300C is an accomplished motorway cruiser. Road and engine noise are minimal, the steering is well weighted, if a little numb. The only dynamic issues are the five-speed automatic gearbox (which will be replaced by an eight-speed unit next year) as it is slow to react to sudden changes of speed. The ride can become very jittery over more broken surfaces too.

MPG and running costs

Unfortunately, the big Chrysler can’t match its European rivals when it comes to efficiency. The V6 diesel engine doesn’t come equipped with any modern fuel-saving technology like stop-start or energy recuperation, and although both diesels have the same economy and emissions figures – 39.8mpg and 185g/km of C02 – they are unlikely to make happy reading for company car or fleet customers – opting for the bigger 20-inch wheels pushes the carbon emissions even higher, to 191g/km. Other running costs should be more manageable, including insurance and servicing, and the 300C comes with much more standard kit than its rivals.

Practicality

The 300C is still a seriously big car – in the same league as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class – but it’s not as practical as you might expect. There’s a huge amount of space inside for passengers with lots of legroom, but headroom will be a little tight for anyone over six foot. There are lots of storage cubbies, and the cupholders in the centre console can be heated or chilled to your liking. Despite clever touches like this, the boot is disappointingly small. At just 462 litres, it’s smaller than both the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, and the odd shape of the loading bay and lack of a flat floor make fitting bigger items a tricky affair. Unlike the outgoing model there are no plans for an estate model.

Safety and reliability

The new 300C received the full five-star crash test rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP. It’s bursting with high-tech safety kit, and Chrysler boasts that it comes with over 70 active and passive safety systems. Chief among these is a new Rain Brake Support feature that removes water from the discs in wet weather for more effective stopping power. There’s also adaptive cruise control, and a blind-spot indicator, which flashes and beeps to alert you to the presence of other cars. The bonnet is fitted with a pop-up device to protect pedestrians in the event of a crash. Build quality is good, and it feels better put together than before. All the mechanical systems have a proven track record, and the 300C is likely to continue that record – but be aware that the parts are quite expensive to fix.

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