Chrysler 300C

When Chrysler pulled the covers off its 300C more than two years ago, everyone admired the car's pure American style

We thought taking the HEMI V8 out of the 300C would be like taking the jam out of a doughnut, but that's not the case. Mercedes' class-leading diesel unit becomes the Chrysler's biggest asset, with great performance and reasonable economy. Trouble is, muscular sty-ling aside, the rest of the 300C package already looks and feels dated.

The promise of eco-nomy from a hi-tech cylinder-shutdown system on the V8 flagship also had price-conscious Brits thinking that fuel costs wouldn't be too crippling, either...

Unfortunately, the mighty HEMI variant manages only 23.3mpg, while the V6 petrol version is little better at 25.7mpg. Don't despair, though - the arrival of an oil-burner should make the 300C attrac-tive to your head as well as your heart. But does diesel dilute the saloon's appeal?

As with the basic platform, the 300C CRD's motor is borrowed from Mercedes. Yet while the underpinnings can be traced back to the previous-generation E-Class, the engine is the German firm's latest class-leading V6 oil-burner.

And the 218bhp unit really is very good. It is smooth, powerful and has bags of torque. Teamed up with a slick five-speed automatic box, this enables a 7.6-second 0-62mph time - a mere 1.2 seconds slower than that of the petrol V8 range-topper.

Only a lack of sound insulation detracts from the diesel's appeal. While there is very little clatter, executive car buyers won't like the noise coming from under the bonnet. The lack of a V8 rumble is also at odds with the 300C's all-American attitude - yet unfortunately the chassis does retain its US feel. Turn-in is quite sharp, but there's little feedback through the steering and the suspension struggles over bumps. It's at the pumps where buyers will become more confident about their engine choice; 34.9mpg improves on the V8's economy by more than a third. Emissions are also far lower, making the 300C a viable company car choice.

At £25,750, the CRD is the same price as its slower V6-powered sibling, and a huge £7,245 cheaper than the HEMI. Even basic models are generously equipped, and the cabin is comfortable. The engineers may have removed the Chrysler's V8 heart, but the diesel unit breathes new life into the 300C.

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