2007 Chrysler 300 Hemi - Review Road Test

Chrysler 300C's bad boy front grille

Was there a more fitting way to drive Chrysler's Hemi-engined 300C than through Long Beach, past Death Row records with Snoop Dogg busting out the sound system and an alligator-jawed doberman in the back seat whooping it up to the chorus of "Drop it Like it's Hot"?

Near, yet far from a boat

Well yes, there is: Step into a pair of your comfiest slippers, put on your finest pair of patent-leather string-drawn motoring gloves for those chilly mornings that make the bones ache, and quietly push the accelerator while staying in the crawler lane of the 405 on your way to see your old friend Bob in Costa Mesa to discuss the ins and outs of the latest Medicaid plan.

Such is the dichotomy at the heart of Chrysler's immensely powerful and popular 300C, a revelation to the company since its 2003 showing at the New York auto show and one that has kept the domestic doom and gloom a little bit further from DaimlerChrysler's door. Read: it has generational appeal, and sells in bucketloads.

For a start it has the bad-boy looks - the massive front grille, the high beltline, the length and width (or should that be girth?) - to appeal to both wannabe hip-hop big dawgs to those of the slightly slowed-down Sixties - both in age and generation - who remember the original 300s  and wants something equally as cutting edge as the original Hemi was and a good bit more reliable than the jokesome 8-6-4 cylinder-slipper that lives on in infamy.  (Chrysler obviously knows its market and has included two shades of beige - linen gold pearl and cool vanilla - in its range. I'm just kidding! It's the way it looks on the Chrysler site.)

Fits five sets of golf clubs.

Big dawg

It's quick, real quick, and really a car of these dimensions 197 inches in length, 74 wide - and curbweight a shade under 4000lb - needs every one of its 340 horses the 5.7-liter V8 engine packs in alongside its 390 lb of torque at 4000rpm on the side. 

Not yet having driven the base model 2.7-liter V6 190-horesepower, I'd say stick to the biggest engine in the range to ensure you're not caught in the slow lane with no way to accelerate your way out of trouble.  But it will also drop a cylinder like so many others on the market today, for greater fuel efficiency at more than 25mpg combined.

It may seem strange to pack a 5.7-liter engine into a car then claim fuel-efficiency but hey, it worked for the Yukon Denali, so why not this (in an engine better suited for it)?

Back to the speed, which really is the most impressive feature, both off the mark and accelerating at speed. Figures of 6.3 seconds 0-60mph and  track-tested (though not by me) quarter-mile of 14.3 seconds are extremely quick; if you want any quicker then step up to the SRT8, which goes 0-60mph at the same pace as its stablemate Dodge Charter R/T, at 5.1 seconds.

Its looks sell themselves, evidently: you will seen many, many of the more than 11,000 sold annually across the US, with European sales topping 2000 a year, both beyond the wildest imaginings of the team that commissioned Canadian designer Ralph Gilles to give some pep to the then outdated 300 range, and almost by accident stumbled upon a halo car. 

HiD headlights with SmartBeam

Perfect for the Alamitos Bay marina

Inside, along with its refined rear-wheel drive ride, is what makes it a genuine contender to the entry-level (and   older brother) Mercs and Bimmers it's all plush leather with a feel of hand-stitched leather and room and comfort and those blissfully comfortable heated and powered seats that seem to extend for ever, front and back.  One of the main reasons it won countless Car of the Year awards, something, it's nice to finally see, domestic carmakers are increasingly turning their attention to.

Add-ons include sat nav and radio, rain-sensing wipers, xenon SmartBeam headlights, Brembo brakes and a great stereo system, Snoop Dogg player or, indeed, hater.

And if you want a doberman, to fetch your slippers or not, this big dawg's for you.

Extraordinary roominess

Leather stitching

18" rims

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