Chrysler 300C

If you have ever been to the USA, you are bound to have discovered something that seemed so sensational, you were convinced you had stumbled across the next big thing. Yet, whether it was a cream-filled doughnut or the unfathomable game of American Football, once back in Blighty, the US import simply felt over-the-top, heavy and excessive.

Anyone who chooses a 300C won't be buying it because of its dynamics; they will have fallen for the handsome shape and inspirational V8 engine, instead. From Chrysler's point of view that's a good thing, because this car can't compete with class-leading rivals, but it's arguably more memorable.

If you have ever been to the USA, you are bound to have discovered something that seemed so sensational, you were convinced you had stumbled across the next big thing. Yet, whether it was a cream-filled doughnut or the unfathomable game of American Football, once back in Blighty, the US import simply felt over-the-top, heavy and excessive.

That doesn't bode well for Chrysler's new 300C, which wears its stars and stripes with pride. It's selling like Big Macs in the States - but is it too cheesy for British tastes?

This is the first-ever example to turn a wheel on UK tarmac, and in styling terms it cuts quite a dash. Surprisingly, the distinctive design seems at home on British roads - the car easily turns as many heads as the manufacturer's Crossfire Coup�. Huge alloy wheels, a hot rod-style low window line and a long bonnet create a classic American look, which holds as much appeal on these shores as it does in California.

And the good news is there's more to the 300C than some sharp bodywork. While the chassis architecture can be traced back to the previous-generation Mercedes E-Class, under the bonnet you will find a 5.7-litre V8.

The HEMI powerplant - a name derived from its hemispherical combustion chamber - delivers an impressive 340bhp. However, economy isn't sacrificed, as the unit comes with a fuel-saving system which shuts down four cylinders when they are not needed - the result being a very un-American 24.8mpg in the combined cycle. With the 0-60mph sprint completed in 6.4 seconds, it's also difficult not to be impressed by the 300C's pace - but it's when the big Chrysler flexes its muscle that the car's limitations start to appear.

The ride and handling are no match for class-leading European rivals, and the 300C lacks composure if hurried along one of our many narrow, bumpy B-roads. We can't get too excited about the interior, either, because while it's filled with plenty of luxurious standard equipment, it hasn't got the quality of materials or design to match the exterior.

That won't help buyers justify the expected £35,000 price tag - although to many this will be immaterial, as we think the 300C will sell on the strength of its character alone. The only bad news is that right-hand-drive models won't go on sale until October next year. However, in many respects, this is one big American idea that loses little appeal in its trip across the Atlantic. Much like the Big Mac, in fact...

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