I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I'm a bit of a "girl racer". Because of this, I'm guilty of looking at the cars offered to me, as a motoring journalist, by the assorted car company public relations types and choosing the fastest, sleekest, most powerful - and usually most expensive - sports car on the list. This time, however, something else caught my eye, mainly because I'd just read an article about proud and prestigious vehicles of the 1950s and I was shocked to see three familiar numbers in front of me in 2010. If someone said to you, "Name three classic cars that have made a return in the last decade?" I'd probably reel off five or six with ease, but before today I wouldn't even have thought of the Chrysler 300.
The Chrysler 300 originally made a name for itself in the 1950s and early 1960s, but fell out of favour by the mid Sixties and disappeared for nearly 30 years until its return as a concept car at the New York International Auto Show in 2003. Fortunately, the management at Chrysler saw new potential in the full size sport/luxury family sedan and gave it the go-ahead to relaunch at the beginning of 2005. Since then there have been no fewer than six models in the range and plenty of variations of those across the world.
On arrival at the Dubai showroom, the first thing I noticed was the distinctive styling of the Chrysler 300, made even more so on the Limited model by its 18-inch chrome-clad aluminium wheels. In a city where everything is big, the 300 still looks and feels like a large car with strong presence due to its bulky beltline, huge chrome grille, bulging fenders and oversized, double lens headlights. The interior of the car is big too. This is due to the 120-inch wheelbase that shortens up the front and rear overhang to create plenty of space for the occupants inside, so much so that the 300 offers more leg room than most of its competitors. And that's not all, whether you're picking up a group of senior executives from the office and heading to the golf course or you're spending a day out with the family and driving to some water park out of the city, the soft-touch surfaces, satin silver bezels and Boston Acoustics sound system all add to the comfortable interior.
But the best bit about the interior is the entertainment system. MyGIG (as it's called) incorporates an audio, entertainment and hands-free communication system including a 20-gigabyte hard drive, which can be used to store music, photographs and your favourite podcasts from back home. It also features a large, 6.5-inch screen and built-in voice-activated navigation. It's easy to use, which is a step up from some of the more expensive competitors in the large saloon market.
This car needs a powerful engine to compensate for the large size and subsequent weight associated with this retro American beast. The problem is, big engines usually mean bad fuel economy. Fortunately this manufacturer's got it right and has managed to provide the perfect blend of high performance with minimum tank guzzling. A 3.5L engine may not sound like much for a car of this size, but driving around the UAE was a breeze and overtaking on long stretches of Emirates Road almost went unnoticed. When it comes to the workings of the Chrysler 300 Limited, this rear-wheel-drive car features a 3.5L, high-output V6 that is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission straight off a Mercedes - an older Mercedes, mind you, developed back when Daimler and Chrysler were still in bed together. The beautifully sounding engine delivers 250hp at 6,400rpm and 340Nm of torque at 3,800rpm.
One thing I wasn't looking forward to however, was testing this car at speed on tight corners, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. For such a big, heavy car, the 300 performed superbly, perhaps something to do with the four-wheel ABS and ESP with Brake Assist that comes as standard. Other standard features include chrome mirrors, fog lamps and leather-trimmed seats. All in all, the Chrysler 300 range with its spacious interior, modern technology and distinctive styling fits well into a market not quite catered to by other manufacturers. If you are a young executive with a desire to rise to the top without breaking the bank, then this car could be for you. It's affordable, economical and has a five-star driver safety rating. Perhaps best of all, once you've received that promotion, you can always upgrade to the 6.1L V8- powered SRT-8 version.
Price base / as tested Dh134,900 / same
Engine 3.5L V6
Gearbox four-speed automatic
Power 250hp @ 6,400rpm
Torque 340Nm @ 3,800
Fuel economy combined 11.2L / 100km