So sitting at home last night, eating fish and chips in front of a tv show about fat people, and listening to the rain outside, and the phone rings. A friend is test-driving a Chrysler 300C, and he's pulling into my street. So I throw some shoes on, race down stairs, and out onto the footpath, and there's a rather large metallic grey Chrysler V6 turbo diesel idling in the middle of the street.
Leaping into the driver's seat, I'm immediately surrounded by leather and plastic, and a substantial array of glowing green back-lit dials. It felt a lot more snug than the Peugeot I'd just driven a few hours in - the roof is lower, windshield a lot more vertical, and the driver's footwell not so much tight as well fitting. This was an auto, with a sideways activated tiptronic that didn't feel as intuitive as the forward/back oriented tiptronics I've played with, but would probably feel better with time.
Pulling out of my street and planting the right foot, the diesel demonstrated a fair bit of torque, and the suspension wasn't as wallowy as I had expected. Flooring it up the steep bit of Vivian St was interesting - heaps of power, but teh hill countered any noticable punch in the engine. Over the Terrace the bulk - real or perceived - of the car was really noticable, though not wing mirrors were harmed in the making of this road test.
There's something about the looks of this car that gives you the sense of committing a crime, even when stopped at traffic lights. It's kind of part family friendly hot-rod, part sacked out gang-patched Holden Statesman. Even at 50kph cruising roudn town you feel like you're breaking the law.
Heading off the Terrace on-ramp onto the motorway, and this thing lept. The rogues gallery in the back seat were audibly impressed by the acceleration, and I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. There was a little bit of turbo lag, but that was overcome quickly, and off we went. Apace. Suspension was good, but given a tight backcountry road the softness would become a lot more noticable, and the slightly noticable understeer a lot more pronounced.
Interior space felt tighter than I think it was - the centre console is enormous, and the leather seats softer and less bucketed than I'm used to, giving a sort of loose shell feel that I suspect is based on the larger US customer market. I didn't test the back seats, but word is they weren't as roomy as expected.
So all in all two thumbs up. And being diesel it won't kill the polar is caps as quickly as the petrol version. I'd like to do a big road trip in one, with fairly straight roads. Where it really shines though, is around town - where you don't so much drive as cruise it. And everyone looks your way, expectign to see someone leap out of the back seat with a violin case...