25 June 2005

Road test

2005 Chrysler 300C

One of our customers brought one in the for service and inspection other day and told us to try it out. Has he seen us drive? Anyway, I got it first. Heh.

As I left the shop, I blipped the throttle, lighting up the tires and leaving rubber all the way to the stop sign. The 5.7L V-8 Hemi (Not the Elephant motors of the Sixties and Seventies but a suitable replacement, same thing for the '300C' nameplate. The car doesn't insult its legendary predecessors.) has more power than I would have thought; better than the pickup truck version.

I took off from the stop sign, working the throttle to keep traction instead of burning up $600 worth of tires. In half a city block I was up to 70 with neck-snapping performance. Next test: get it stopped before the next stop sign.

It did with aplomb and panache, and I was never worried about keeping the car straight or not getting it stopped (The brake calipers and rotors on the front are HUGE. No worries about fade here.) I sat there and grinned, definitely aroused. I was impressed . . . very. I took the opportunity to bring my breathing under control and wish for a cigarette (We dont' smoke in customers' cars), and look around the well-appointed interior. It was comfortable, the leather seats seem to envelop you like a good, familiar lover. The dash is laid out well and easy to read. My only problem is the shifter which stops at 'Drive' and then has the side-to-side '-'/'+' thing that's the current fad among automakers. Just give me the old 'P-R-N-D-3-2-1' and I'll be happy. I'm murder on automatic transmissions anyway and that's just one more complication I don't need when I'm in the process of blowing one up (That's why I have a 5-speed in my Ranger pickup; I can rebuild one of them in a 1/2 hour, in the dark, with a hand tied behind my back. 30 years in the industry and automatics are still pure fucking magic to me.).

Well back to the shop before I get in trouble (The 70 mph drag run went past the local police booth. I came back the other way.). The boys were wating when I got back and the shit-eating grin was still on my face. It told them volumes. We put it up on the lift and got the next surprise.

The running gear and suspension, the exhaust system, everything underneath was classic Mercedes-Benz engineering. No wonder it ran and handled like such a well-balanced car. Again, impressive.

Overall thoughts can be summed up easily. A good car. It's a luxury car, no doubt about it, though well appointed for under $30K. If it came in an AWD version, I'd consider one when the lease was up on the Mrs.' Explorer. A caveat, I don't know how their electronics will weather age, but if Daimler had as much influence as it seems, the engine control electronics should be above par. If you're in the market for a full-size luxury sedan, it's worth your time to give the 300C a test drive. Make sure you tell 'em you want the Hemi. Having too much horsepower is like being too rich or too thin.

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