2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2008 Chrysler 300

Ottawa, Ontario – For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been motoring around in a particularly eye-catching 2008 Chrysler 300C. It’s Inferno Red with chrome accents, fitted with the new SRT Design Package. It turns heads everywhere I go.

This was something of a surprise, as the big Chrysler (even a shiny red one!) is not new to the market and you’d think this vehicle would have faded into the landscape by now, as most vehicles quickly do.

But apparently the 300C is not your average vehicle. Maybe it’s like walking around with a Great Dane at the end of a leash. What I mean is, people are used to seeing dogs and usually don’t give them much thought, but every once in a while something comes along and, “W’oh….look at that!”

2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design. Click image to enlarge

This is the reaction you often get with a red 300C, although the SRT Design Package with its monster 20-inch wheels adding exclamation points at all four corners must also have something to do with it,

Or maybe it’s just the overall look of the car; a design triumph and future classic in my view.

Below the skin, Chrysler’s full-size, rear-drive sedan continues much as it did when introduced. The 300 is powered with a 250-horsepower V6, the 300C gets the much-promoted 5.7-litre Hemi V8, making 340 hp and 390 lb.-ft torque, and there’s a rip-roaring SRT8 version which receives a 6.1-litre V8 making 425 hp.

The $1,795 SRT Design Package (Package 29S) updates the look and specification, without requiring major work. It’s an extraordinary value, giving the 300C many desirable SRT8-related features, while keeping the 5.7 engine and its fuel saving Multi Displacement System (MDS) cylinder deactivation technology.

With a base price of $45,195 for the 300C (or significantly less; more on pricing of this vehicle below), the 300C is already loaded. Standard equipment includes electronic stability control, keyless entry, remote start system, traction control, AutoStick five-speed automatic transmission, garage door opener, climate control, Boston Acoustics audio, Sirius satellite radio with a one-year subscription, power adjustable pedals, heated front seats, leather upholstery, HID lights, and more.

2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design. Click image to enlarge

The SRT Design package adds the 20-inch wheels, performance tires, adaptive speed control, graphite pattern interior trim, performance exhaust, performance seats, adaptive speed control, performance steering and suspension, power-folding mirrors, side curtain airbags, supplemental side airbags and exterior trim enhancements.

In addition, our test car was fitted with a park-sense park assist system (audio), power sunroof, MyGiG Infotainment System with USB interface, Navigation and UConnect (Bluetooth) connectivity, and auto-dimming mirror with microphone. Apparently, this car had everything.

Performance from the 300C Hemi engine can be stirring, as it leaps off the line when asked, emitting a fat growl from the twin exhausts as speed increases. And even though this is a full-size car, it’s easy to manoeuvre around town.

2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design. Click image to enlarge

But I want to highlight the SRT Design performance seats. With their suede inserts, side bolsters and contrasting stitching, these substantial seats are absolutely superb. They offer wonderful comfort with excellent lateral support. They are heated, power, memory seats, with lumbar adjustment, and suit this car perfectly.

The ride on this car’s 20-inch tires, even though they’re low-profile 45-series, is smooth and quiet; suspension is not harsh, and the MDS system shuts down four of the eight cylinders for additional economy when rapid acceleration or torque is not required (you don’t notice this feature in operation at all, and “Fuel Saver Mode” is displayed on the instrument panel when it activates).

Notable is the automatic and/or power-everything on this car, including the automatic “SmartBeam” headlights (at night they dip for oncoming traffic, and also when you approach a slower vehicle from behind), the power tilt and telescope steering column, the dipping rear-view mirrors when you select Reverse, the rain sensing windshield wipers, the automatic cruise control (it maintains a fixed distance between you and the car ahead), the remote start feature, the list goes on. Along with the UConnect hands-free phone technology, the 20-gigabyte storage for your music in the MyGig system, the navigation, remote steering wheel controls, trip computer, I can’t think of much you’d find in any luxury car that’s not included in this Chrysler.

2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design
2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design. Click image to enlarge

The only thing that annoyed me was getting in and out of it. The driver’s door is reluctant to stay open when you want it to. More than once it almost closed on my leg, as I was getting myself situated in the car.

Another observation, and it’s purely anecdotal, is that women don’t seem to like this car; too big, too brash, too bold, too much were the comments I got from the women I asked. What can you say? You could always try the “safe,” card, which this car with its heft and technology, certainly is.

Fuel costs? An obvious concern, with my city results hovering around 13.5 L/100 km, and highway giving a general reading of 9.0-9.5 L/ 100 km (Energuide says 13.6/8.6). Definitely not compact car territory, but you’re getting a lot of car, here, and fuel efficient driving will help to keep costs down (along with the use of regular grade fuel, which according to Chrysler is acceptable for the 300C; mid-grade recommended).

Finally, the price: total list price on the Chrysler 300C as optioned above is $51,190, including the $1,300 destination charge, but go on Chrysler’s website and you’ll see these cars are being discounted by thousands of dollars ($8,000 at the time of this writing). With that discount, and possibly an additional discount from the dealer, you’re looking at a major bargain for a Chrysler 300C. And the SRT Design Package is a must, if only for those great seats and eye-popping wheels.

Pricing: 2008 Chrysler 300C SRT Design Package

Base price: $45,195

Options: $4,595 (SRT Design package $1,795; park-sense park assist system $450; power sunroof $1,075; MyGiG Infotainment System with USB interface, Navigation and UConnect (Bluetooth) connectivity and auto-dimming mirror with microphone $1,275)
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,300
Price as tested: $51,190
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

Specifications
  • Specifications: 2008 Chrysler 300

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    Manufacturer’s web site
  • Chrysler Canada
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