After a full week in the 300C I was certainly smitten by the hulking sedan. The bulging lines, immense grill, chrome 18-inch wheels, they all enthralled me. The Midnight Blue test vehicle certainly lived up to the hype and it's easy to see why Chrysler is seeing such success with it.

But it is hard to imagine what the car would be like without the 340-horsepower Hemi engine.

The big V-8 offers power but more importantly it is the smooth delivery that was most impressive. The 5-speed automatic was so nice I used the manual shifting feature once and than abandoned it for the standard automated shifting. Why mess with perfection?

Around town the Mercedes underpinnings kept things smoothed out and on the highway the 300C is a pleasure. Even with seeming small windows visibility was excellent. I often do a quick look over the right shoulder when merging on the highway, even after checking all the mirrors. It?s just an extra look to make sure I don?t sideswipe anyone. In the 300C that quick peek is revealing and the entire side and rear of the car is open.

Not everything was perfect. The steering wheel and its controls was stood out in an otherwise well designed pseudo-luxury cabin. There was a metallic ?looking? film on the volume and information controls on the steering wheel. It was so cheaply done I was wondering if Chrysler just ran out of money before getting to the steering wheel. The control stalks on the wheel were also hard to navigate.

Otherwise materials were very high quality. The roof lining, carpet, door panels and center stack all compare with the new Cadillacs and even some European luxury cars. As do most door and center console controls.

In the end we have to agree with one of our readers. This is a segment buster that has awoken the sleeping beast of American car buyers eager for power and luxury looks. The hype is also real. Actual people stopped to ask me about the 300C repeatedly. Value is a tough call. At $34,425 with almost every option there isn?t much else you could add on. At that price you?re just getting into most entry-level luxury cars, many with 4-cylinder engines. Ok maybe it?s not that tough a call.





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