Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: June 5, 2018
The 300 has always been a striking vehicle in Chrysler’s portfolio. Blending elements from the 50’s C300 with contemporary design aspects has paid off in spades for the sedan since its launch in 2004. A testament to its success, the second generation 300 carries over the same good looks and has remained largely unchanged through its facelift in 2015. While other manufacturers have struggled to keep their retro-modern designs relevant, the 300 pulls a George Clooney and seems to look better with age.
While this 300S may not sit at the tippy top of the range (that’d be the 300C), it does offer a host of sensible and performance features that may make this the most appealing 300 of the lineup. For starters, Chrysler has upped the ante of the sedan’s good looks with a unique $700 appearance package that adds a blacked out grille and logos. The murdered out look continues with head and tail lamp surrounds complimenting the exclusive 19-inch hyperblack alloy wheels. A duck tail body coloured spoiler rounds out the additions.
Inside the cabin, the driver and passenger seats have been beefed up with extra side bolstering and are finished with alcantara inserts. There are S badges embroidered on the backs too to remind you that this is in fact not a rental car. Plopping yourself into the seats is akin to falling into your favourite couch - comfy and well contoured to your bottom. It’s not the prettiest interior but it’s spacious and relatively feature laden. Heated and ventilated seats are a welcome addition, as is the heated wheel. Perhaps the best part is the ability to customize which turns on when you start the car through Chrysler’s responsive 8.4 inch uConnect system. The display offers crisp colours and ease of use with what could be the lowest learning curve of any infotainment system in the industry.
If the S nomenclature or aggressive stylistic changes haven’t clued you in, the 300S aims to offer a sportier driving experience than the Touring or the luxury-oriented 300C models. Under the hood sits FCA’s 3.6L Pentastar V6. There is an optional 5.7L HEMI V8 for those who lust after American muscle in its purest form, though it’s only available with rear wheel drive.
The six cylinder on the other hand uses some clever engineering to provide a seamless all wheel drive experience. Chrysler calls upon an active transfer case that disengages during normal driving conditions - effectively making the big sedan rear wheel drive as well. Once it detects slip, the transfer case engages allowing the front axle to aide in inclement driving situations. This off-on AWD system helps maximize efficiency in this 1935 kg sedan.
Producing just 300hp (8 hp more than a base Touring model) and 264 lb-ft of torque, there are instances where we wish there was just a bit more oomph from the motor. Some more low-end grunt would certainly help motivate the large barge along. It is a shame because the sedan handles speed well. Its large size and use of sound insulated windows give the illusion that the car is travelling slower than it is.
Moreover, Chrysler has beefed up the suspension components and managed to find a sweet spot between comfort and sport. Traversing the pothole ridden streets of downtown Toronto, the 300S rarely feels perturbed, firmer than its luxury oriented models but not so much that the ride quality is compromised. Sport mode adds to the experience with a heftier steering feel, a tendency for the ZF-sourced 8-speed TorqueFlite transmission to resist switching cogs as often, and sharper throttle response. The dampers however, remain unchanged.
At an as-tested price of $53,795, you’re just encroaching on where German sport-luxury offerings start. Unlike its rivals, this comes loaded with AWD, a panoramic moonroof, navigation, and a full (and I mean full) suite of driving nannies. Checking the SafetyTec I and II groups provides you with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a backup camera, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and forward collision warning. At this price point, you might get a backup camera in a German competitor, and that's about it. If you’re really hankering for the classic American muscle formula - the V8 Hemi is the one to get, but if you want some fun and a whole lot of sensibility, it’s really hard to rule out this very well equipped V6 300S.