C&D Road Test - 2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    This mobster in a pinstripe may just save the franchise

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    BY AARON ROBINSON
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFFREY G. RUSSELL
    May 2004

    We're getting used to Chrysler saving its own skin to the uproarious clash of cymbals. The company stretched a shapely capsule over a huge cabin for the 1993 Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid, and jaws went rubbery. The Canadian-built Concorde and Intrepid are history, but if science ever revives Al Capone, Chrysler has his car.

    The brief on the new 300C Hemi starts with two complex axles yanked almost wholesale from a Mercedes-Benz E-class. They are screwed to the far ends of a retro-ritz cockpit and a chrome-bedecked bunker with gun slits for glass. Optional interior fringe includes a choice of real walnut or faux tortoise-shell trim direct from the Gatsby era.

    Eight cylinders hump out the Hemi's 340 horses and 390 pound-feet of torque, the power slipped under the floor to the rear where, in full fury, it paints the road with 10-foot patches of rubber and shoves the mass to 60 mph in a torrid 5.3 seconds. When not needed for saving time, four of the Hemi's cylinders switch off seamlessly to save fuel.

    Searching for a rear-driver between the $25,000 Grand Marquis and the $55,000 Lexus LS430? The Chrysler sits east of the moon and west of the sun. A base 300C stripper with a 190-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 and four-speed automatic sells for base Camry V-6 money, or $23,595. The optional $775 anti-lock brakes (standard on the Camry) and $1025 stability control are wanna-haves in the White Christmas states.

    A notch up, the 300C Touring model offers more protein for $27,395: a 250-hp, 3.5-liter SOHC V-6, a four-speed auto, leather chairs, 17-inch wheels, and standard ABS and stability control. Even notchier is the 300C pictured here, which opens at $32,995 and delivers the knockout Hemi plus a Mercedes five-speed automatic and niftier trim. Optional all-wheel drive via a planetary-gear differential with a 32/68 front-to-rear torque split (the Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC system, in other words) appears this fall on models with 3.5s and Hemis. Curtain airbags run another $840 and are a part of the Protection Group, along with self-sealing Continental tires. A sound package includes a navigation system and Boston Acoustics speakers for a wallet-slimming $2130.

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    The risky styling, the pricing, the catalog of engines and options—it all makes the 300C the most interesting sedan to roll out of Detroit since, well, since the original Concorde and Intrepid. Like those cars, the new 300 has size on its side. Stretching 120.0 inches, the 300C's wheelbase is 7.6 inches longer than an E-class's, more than a foot longer than a Toyota Avalon's. Rear-seaters get 40.2 inches of legroom, about the same as in the space-efficient Avalon but 4.6 inches more than in the E-class.

    The 300C's choptop profile is a styling sleight of hand. At 58.4 inches, the 300C is actually 1.3 inches taller than the bulbous-looking Avalon. The 300 just wears its flanks yanked up like oversize trousers. Slinging an arm over the windowsill is a problem. Flattening a Ferrari in the blind spot caused by the high sills and thick C-pillar is a bigger problem.

    Otherwise, good thinking abounds in the entire 300C lineup. The compact rear suspension mostly stays out of the trunk, a flat-floored, 16-cubic-foot closet. Its aluminum lid mounts with compound hinges to swing clear of foreheads. The rear seats split 60/40 and fold flat, opening up even more cargo space. We've sampled new Kias and Mitsubishis that don't do that.

    When used for sitting, both the front and rear seats coddle the keister with a simple but effective bolster pattern and somewhat firmer foam than the usual domestic custard. The driver gets a dead pedal, and the live pedals can swing on an electric adjuster that is a $175 option. A Mercedes-brand tilting-and-telescoping steering column seals the deal for most body types.

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    The 300C's up-lux treatment includes nickel-plated plastic trim, a leather-wrapped wheel, and chrome gauge rings. The vents are delicate louvers that fold flush with one finger. The single flexible skin swathing the upper dash appears clean and squeak-resistant, although the dashboard's deep-cut grain is out of place. It doesn't say "opulent" as much as "off-road." The center bin is deep, the lid is so long that, when opened, it traps your right hand behind it. Regardless of what it's doing, the left hand has to help.

    Nickels were saved on the plain two-tone door panels and rotary-knob climate control, which does have one noteworthy novelty: A "low auto" setting limits the fan speed and thus the noise of fan whoosh; "high auto" restores full bluster for more rapid temperature swings.

    If a digital climate-control display and French-stitched-leather door inserts are the castoffs that pay for the 300C's excellent underbody, we won't complain. Chrysler's last rear-drive sedan was the 1989 Dodge Diplomat/Plymouth Gran Fury. Those are small shoes to fill, even without engineering inspiration from Mercedes.

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    Although the 300C and the Dodge Magnum share not a single stamping with a Benz, the Silver Star has its glittering imprint on their suspensions, body designs, and technologies. Dual-phase steel is one neat-o trick nipped from Mercedes note pads. This special ferrous is rolled relatively thin and soft. It hardens once from the heat and pressure of the stamping press and then again while roasting in the paint shop's curing oven. The 300's engineers say the result is greater strength from thinner steel.

    There's more sophistication in the suspension. Cast aluminum links paired with aluminum brake calipers clip the mass right where Newton is his most mischievous. The setup actually supplies a real appetite for curves that the old front-drive 300M could only promise. The 4140-pound 300C is a big car cured of typical big-car ills. There's no squealing or squirming when the roads begin to snake. Slip angles—the difference between where the tires are pointed and where they're actually rolling—stay down in German four-door territory. Body pitching in the corners and under braking (a reliable 184 feet from 70 mph under a firm pedal) is minimal, the movements sharp and controlled. The hitch: Buyers trading in softies such as the Grand Marquis will notice their once-leaden ride has livened up. Expect more feedback, more road bump and tire thrum, from the 300C.

    Forget its 0.77-g skidpad performance. The 300C's electronic-stability-control system interfered and cannot be fully disabled. Thumbing the dash button only quiets the traction control and slightly raises the computer's tolerance for sideways play. The stability control never allows real tail swinging even though the Hemi is happy to supply it.

    Buried to the carpet, the cast-iron 5.7-liter V-8 sounds just like Petty's old Plymouth (if it had mufflers the size of a milk truck). Posting 5.3 to 60 and 13.9 in the quarter at 102 mph, the 300C runs with Mustangs and 350Zs. It muscles right past anything approaching its size and price, including the 270-hp (and 3480-pound) Acura TL, which is good for 5.7 seconds to 60. It puts the Mercury Marauder on a hauler home to Mama.

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    Pulling that much sauce from pushrods requires a warm cam, and the 300C shivers noticeably at idle. Still, throttle tip-in is at the driver's whim—anything from a gentle glide to a tire smoker—and quiet civility reigns in freeway cruise. The Hemi and the Daimler-designed transmission (now built in Kokomo, Indiana) speak the same language and agree on the mission. Upshifts are all but invisible, downshifts are quick and easily provoked. The lever, transplanted from a Mercedes, has precise movements, and you slap it sideways, just like a Mercedes', for easy DIY shifting.

    So this is what you get when you mix Mercedes with Mopar: a big-cigar car with Teutonic athletics and they-actually-did-it styling.
    Apologies due. Some of us couldn't see it, especially when Daimler and Chrysler's marriage seemed at its stormiest. We see it now. The engineers have delivered a first-class design with world-class components to the assemblers in Brampton, Ontario. Chryslers haven't set many quality records, and our preproduction sample had a few notable defects such as an ill-fitting hood and driver's door. If the plant gets the 300C built right, the cymbal crash may be deafening.

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    THE VERDICT

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    Highs: Audacious styling, goes like lubed lightning and turns like a dancing debutante, a back seat fit for a Karim.

    Lows: A slightly crusty suspension, Chrysler's rep for quality demons.

    The Verdict: Still against the merger? Sit down, shut up, and hang on.


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    Demi Hemi

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    A Hemi cut in half? Chrysler calls it the Multi Displacement System (MDS), a cylinder shut-off feature on the 300C that, by company accounting, boosts fuel economy 10 percent on the EPA city cycle. Under light throttle at any speed between 15 mph and 82 mph, a dedicated oil stream to four intake and four exhaust roller lifters pushes a pin in the lifters allowing them to compress rather than stroke the pushrod. The valves stay closed to reduce pumping losses and trap exhaust gases, keeping the cylinders warm. Mash the accelerator, and within 40 milliseconds the pin drops back into place, reactivating the valves. The 4140-pound 300C Hemi scores 17 mpg in city driving and 25 on the highway in EPA tests. The Car and Driver test, admittedly riotous, resulted in 17 miles to the gallon. Did the system ever turn on? Couldn't tell—it's completely seamless. —AR

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    C/D TEST RESULTS

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    ACCELERATION, Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph, 2.0
    40 mph: 2.8
    50 mph: 4.1
    60 mph: 5.3
    70 mph: 6.8
    80 mph: 8.8
    90 mph: 11.0
    100 mph: 13.4
    110 mph: 16.1
    120 mph: 20.1
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.6
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 2.8
    50-70 mph: 3.4
    Standing 1/4-mile: 13.9 sec @ 102 mph
    Top speed (governor limited): 130 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 184 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.77 g
    Understeer: minimal


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 17 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 25 mpg
    C/D-observed: 17 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 45 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 77 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 70 dBA

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

    Price as tested: $37,760

    Price and option breakdown: base Chrysler 300C Hemi (includes $625 freight), $32,995; Navigation and Sound Group (includes nav system, 6-CD changer, and Boston Acoustics speakers), $2130; power sunroof, $895; Protection Group (includes curtain airbags, parking assist, and self-sealing tires), $840; walnut trim, $400; satellite radio, $325; adjustable pedals, $175

    Major standard accessories: power windows, seats, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting and telescoping steering wheel; rear defroster

    Sound system: Chrysler/Boston Acoustics AM-FM-satellite radio/CD changer, 7 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, iron block and aluminum heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.92 x 3.58 in, 99.5 x 90.9mm
    Displacement: 345 cu in, 5654cc
    Compression ratio: 9.6:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: pushrods, 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters with electronically controlled cylinder deactivation
    Power (SAE net): 340 bhp @ 5000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 390 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

    Redline:5700 rpm

    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
    Final-drive ratio: 2.82:1

    Gear, Ratio, Mph/1000 rpm, Max test speed
    I, 3.59, 8.1, 46 mph (5700 rpm)
    II, 2.19, 13.3, 76 mph (5700 rpm)
    III, 1.41, 20.7, 118 mph (5700 rpm)
    IV, 1.00, 29.2, 130 mph (4450 rpm)
    V, 0.83, 35.2, 130 mph (3700 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 120.0 in
    Track, front/rear :63.0/63.1 in
    Length/width/height: 196.8/74.1/58.4 in
    Ground clearance: 5.6 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.35) x frontal area (25.4 sq ft): 8.89 sq ft
    Curb weight: 4140 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 54.1/45.9%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 12.2 lb
    Fuel capacity: 19.0 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction with 1 rubber-isolated subframe
    Body material: welded steel and aluminum stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 56 cu ft
    rear seat: 51 cu ft
    luggage: 16 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front and curtain airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts, curtain airbags

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind; 1 upper control arm, 1 lateral link, and 1 diagonal link per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind; 2 lateral links, 1 diagonal link, and 1 toe-control link per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 16.1:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.8
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 38.9 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist, anti-lock control, brake assist, and stability control
    Front: 13.6 x 1.1-in vented disc
    Rear: 12.6 x 0.9-in vented disc

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 7.5 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Continental ContiTouringContact,
    P225/60R-18: 99H M+S
    Test: inflation pressures, F/R 30/30 psi
    Spare: high-pressure compact

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  2. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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    :bowdown:

    DC > *
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It's a full second faster than Chrysler advertises, and matches the new GTO's acceleration to 60.

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    Fantastic. :bowdown:
     
  4. KW

    KW Guest

    Very :cool:

    I just hope that rising gas prices don't nip this muscle car renaissance in the bud.
     
  5. Jericho

    Jericho Active Member

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    Mercedes is doing good :cool:
     
  6. Hurricane

    Hurricane E=mc^2

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    Hopefully I'll get to drive one come midde of May. Hopefully the instructors/reps don;t make us baby the damn things all day.
     
  7. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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  8. Moon

    Moon New Member

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    I really like the way it looks from the front, looks fucking solid :cool:

    now ill go read ;)
     
  9. WildWilly

    WildWilly Woooooozy

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  10. autoracer1

    autoracer1 Rallyx postponed :wtc: Next one May 10.

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    Awesome :bigthumb:

    I could still sense the Chrysler presence when I sat in one at an auto show, it took me all of 3 seconds to find a flimsy, cheap piece of plastic. Tarnished a bit, but definently an awesome car.

    Hey trishield... are they selling GTOs in canada?
     
  11. Vineyard311

    Vineyard311 Wanna Race?

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    nope :hs:
     
  12. autoracer1

    autoracer1 Rallyx postponed :wtc: Next one May 10.

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    Sheer fucking idiocy. It would DOMINATE in a rich market like Vancouver. I see literally 20s of G35Cs every day, and I know they sell well because we deliver like 10 a week at my dealership :o

    Way to drop the fucking ball pontiac.
     
  13. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    $23,595. The interior is nice, and the car can coddle you as well as dance.
     
  14. 93CivicEX

    93CivicEX Charming, Dashing, Rental car bashing

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    Im loving this thing.

    I saw one in traffic last week...

    its got a HIGH belt line... cool lookin :cool:
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Canadian regulations won't allow GM to sell it there.
     
  16. threeclaws

    threeclaws R.I.P.

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    $37K :eek3:

    Nice pricing, guess I'll have to check that out.
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Hemi 300C starts at $32K.
     
  18. PurpleSplat

    PurpleSplat Guest

    I'm hard. :hs:
     
  19. ERock

    ERock My Face Is Kittah OT Supporter

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  20. autoracer1

    autoracer1 Rallyx postponed :wtc: Next one May 10.

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    Dont tell me its those stupid 5mph bumper laws. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY cant they be the same as the states?!??!?! Stupid canada.

    I agree the interior is nice, its a beautiful car, and felt well built. I just pointed out you know chrysler is building it after all, because it took me all of 3 seconds to find flimsy plastic :o 04 Maxima has the same problem too.
     
  21. AMOK

    AMOK New Member

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    could use a more gigantic grill.
     
  22. 6SpeedTA95

    6SpeedTA95 OT Supporter

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    I like it and its a dodge :hs: :hs:
     
  23. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :hs:


    Ditto for the 04 TL. :o
     
  24. anomaly

    anomaly If you weren't around for the original HA.net spli

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    I saw one at the local Chrysler dealership, this car succeds in every area, where the Crossfire fucked everything up. :bigthumb:
     
  25. nucl3ar

    nucl3ar Guest

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