Here is a vehicle worthy of its own Bruce Springsteen song: The sexy, all-black Chrysler 300C. The engine is a lion — 5.7- litre V8 HEMI — but, outputting 14.4 L/100 km in the city and 8.5 on the highway with its gut-rumbling 363 hp and 394 lbs of torque, it ought to come with reins. You quickly welcome any help wresting the most from each millilitre of fuel. For instance, there’s the ACC which, Torontonians may be surprised to learn, stands for adaptive cruise control. But let’s talk about the drive later.
You’ll be seduced by the 300C’s power, but only after being thoroughly distracted by the abundance of user-friendly features. It’s all carefully planned. Everywhere you look, there’s another helpful gizmo that wasn’t simply crammed in to tick off some focus group’s laundry list.
Take the steering wheel. You actually can — because it moves in several directions but, most impressively, in and out turtle-like with the push of a button. It’s also leather-wrapped and fully heated, which is no biggie in summer (unless you’re an AC junkie), but in winter you’ll appreciate the toasty warm fingers.
Illuminated cup holders? That’s just the beginning: They have buttons that’ll chill or warm your cup. Brilliant!
This car’s black everywhere, including the micro-perforated leather seats. Sure, it looks badass all year round, but that end of the light spectrum gets worse-ass hot in summer. So the seats have a cooling system. Heated seats are a welcome luxury in cold weather, but vented seats in summer are the crown of civilization.
The keyless ‘enter-n-go’ proximity sensor recognizes the key fob in your pocket; when you’re in the vicinity, the door just unlocks without any double yanking. Subtle, certainly, but if you’re nursing a chronic shoulder injury and carrying a weighted briefcase, that’s significant. Speaking of which, the system locks the car automatically when you leave.
Fingernail-sized lights in the side mirrors flicker when some putz is in your blind spot.
Similarly, as its name suggests, a twin feature called ‘Fwd Collision Sensitivity’ alerts you when your path has been crossed too closely for comfort. Mind you, the 300C is a huge machine. If you live in the city, where there are always tight corners, foreshortened parking spots, underground garages and century-old lanes, you’re continually alerted of potential hazards. And this panicky burbling gets old fast.
Fortunately the 300C’s touch-sensitive uConnect media centre is one of the most user-friendly interfaces I’ve seen, mixing simple icons and simpler text. Slowing or amplifying, connecting or disconnecting dozens of features doesn’t require a master’s degree in frustration. Everything from programming the side mirrors to tilt in reverse to deactivating the rain-sensing auto-wipers is basic and truly intuitive. With big type! The manufacturers knew that few 20-somethings would be purchasing this without having won the lotto first.
And there’s power everything else. Like, a trunk opener with enough oomph to actually open the trunk. The 300C’s springs up to swallow heaps of cargo. Speaking of which, as we were saying up top, this car goes like Ben Johnson. It’s significantly pumped up.
Despite its girth, the 300C is powerful and agile enough to deliver you through a fading amber in the blink of an eye. All-wheel drive on 19-inch wheels, plus the aforementioned abundance of torque, provide that close-to-the-road feeling you’d expect from a much smaller automobile. But watch yourself. Hooligans and police will have their eye on you and, if you don’t have your eye on the speedometer, you may be surprised how fast you’re going — and how quickly that can cost you demerit points. Enjoy!
2012 Chrysler 300C
Base price: $41,995
As driven: $47,920
Image courtesy of Steven Bochenek.