It seemed to have taken half a decade from the time Chrysler emboldened the Pentastar V6 engines with the ZF-built 8-speed automatic gearboxes to apply the transmission to the HEMI V8 models. Having been a Chrysler 300C owner of three V8 HEMI’s in three different variations (sport wagon, sedan, and SRT), I imagined truly cracking performance and much better fuel economy with the more efficient ratios and smarter electronics.
Thankfully, as expected, the facelifted and updated Chrysler 300C V8 with its Platinum equipment levels did deliver a more lively driving experience. However, surprisingly fuel economy is practically identical with the old 5-speed transmission. We had tested the more affordable yet similarly trimmed V6 model a few months ago so we were already very familiar with the updated equipment and rotary shift dial, so we concentrated our testing efforts on the driving.
Dynamically, the extra ratios and crisper shifting did cut acceleration time from rest by almost a second, and it feels stronger through the rest of the first 6-ratios, but then the power drops off on the remaining two ratios. I initially assumed that, like in other similar vehicles with as many or even one more gear, the last ratios were designed to carry the power arc to a cruising pace to save fuel. So I did reasonably expect a much better fuel highway consumption rating by at least 3 MPG; I barely got a 1 MPG improvement. So look at the new gearbox as an additional feature more for refinement and daily drivability. The new gearbox makes the already smooth 300C feel even more accomplished. The old gearbox wasn’t that bad in reality, even if it felt occasionally sloppy when it would get confused during its ratio hunting, or its refusal to shift even when in manumatic mode.
The electronically assisted steering does feel a touch better, but it also didn’t seem to help overall fuel efficiency either coming from the old hydraulic system, which is a pity. Perhaps it would in time. The Chrysler 300C may not have the visual impact that it once had when it broke into the automotive scene back in 2005, but it is at its finest evolution.
Specification – 2016 Chrysler 300C V8 Platinum
Engine: V8, 5654 cc, ohv 16V, VVT, HEMI, MDS, 8-Speed AT
Max power: 363 bhp @ 5200 rpm
Max torque: 394 lb ft @ 4200 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 5.6 sec.
Top Speed: 250 km/h (155 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 16 mpg City & 25 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 51,430.00
C! RATING 9.0/10
+Very familiar, at its most refined, peppier thanks to the 8-speed gearbox.
-Still essentially good but it desperately needs an overhaul to stay more competitive and get back into the game.