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2016 Chrysler 300S: Edgier elegance

The 2016 Chrysler 300S adds a sportier edge to the classic 300 styling with side sills, deck lid spoiler, big 20-inch wheels, finished in a brilliant shade of optional Redline Tri-Coat Pearl.

  • Chrysler 300S

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: Classic styling that still hasn’t grown old, mixed with a sportier edge in 300S trim
    • What’s Worst: Hemi V8 not available with all-wheel-drive
    • What’s Interesting: The original 1962 Chrysler 300 came in sedan, coupe and convertible forms. We can only wish . .

FCA Canada produces three different Canadian-built cars at their Brampton Assembly Plant – the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Challenger.

And although those three models share platforms, parts bins and some pieces, each vehicle tries to culminate in its own definitive style and character.

The 300 sets the tone as the classic Chrysler flagship, while the Charger adds a sportier Dodge mantra to its four-door sedan design and the Challenger stays true to its muscle car derived two-door coupe layout.

It’s a varied selection indeed, but those differences are not always sharply delineated, which was probably why I seemed to be going through some kind of automotive identity crisis.

I would find myself strolling the parking lot, looking for my Charger test car before remembering that, “no, you’re driving a Chrysler 300, dummy”.

For some reason, I was having trouble getting past that mental block.

Only the winged Chrysler badge on the steering wheel and the classic clock on the dash seemed to check my Charger delusions.

Chrysler 300S

Inside, the leather-wrapped interior is fully loaded with amenities and luxuries, including the latest generation Uconnect infotainment system and a 552-watt, 10-speaker Beats audio system.

But maybe my confusion was understandable because, along with the different degrees of luxury that make up the 300 lineup, ranging up from the base 300 Touring ($38,995) to the ultimate 300C Platinum ($44,195), the trim selection also includes a sporty 300S ($42,695), a model that adds an extra spark of performance to an otherwise staid and stolid lineup.

And why should Charger fans have all the fun, anyway?

Also Read: Facing the Challenger

The Chrysler 300 lineup starts with the basic ingredients of a capable 292 hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine mated to an eight-speed TorqueFlite transmission, putting power to the road through either standard rear-wheel-drive or an optional all-wheel-drive system ($2,200).

The Chrysler 300S, however, is just a little bit different, bumping up the power with either a slightly higher-output 300 hp version of the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 or, more drastically, as tested here, with the optional 363 hp 5.7-litre Hemi V8 ($2,950).

Chrysler 300S

An optional 5.7-litre Hemi V8 harnesses 363 hp and 394 lb/ft of torque while offering a 14.8/9.3L/100km (city/hwy) fuel economy rating thanks to the engine’s Four-Cylinder Mode FuelSaver Multi-Displacement System (MDS).

I’ve driven various models with the Pentastar V6 and while it is a fully capable engine, you have to admit that harnessing a Hemi V8 does tend to move this two tons of fun up to speed rather more briskly.

The exhaust seems normally tuned for 300 civility but you’ll know the V8 is there when you honk forth with a full welly and a little added brouhaha braying from the rear dual exhaust ports.

While the 300 lineup does not carry the crazy SRT 6.4-litre V8 version anymore, the company does boast that the 5.7-litre version still manages best-in-class V8 power and torque, along with, surprisingly, best-in-class V8 driving range.

Also Read: Kia’s Cadenza shouldn’t be overlooked

This comes courtesy of the combined effect of the wide-ratio eight-speed automatic and the V8 motor’s Four-Cylinder Mode FuelSaver Multi-Displacement System (MDS) that, in effect, shuts down half the power pots under low demand acceleration situations, like, say, during steady highway cruising.

I was dubious about the claimed 14.8/9.3L/100km (city/hwy) rating but my mixed bag of driving conditions averaged out to a respectable 11.2L/100km (comb). Not bad at all for a V8 engine.

Along with the extra muscle, the 300S offers upgraded performance dynamics, adding a Sport Mode that reduces shift times from approximately 400 milliseconds to 250 milliseconds.

Chrysler 300S

Bi-Xenon HID headlights with Adaptive Forward Lighting and an automatic headlight-levelling system come courtesy of an optional Lighting Group. Integrated LED DRLs form a “C” shape for brand identity.

The steering feel gets firmer and, for 2016, the 300S also adds a new sport suspension with increased spring rates and damping, upgraded bushings and larger sway bars (with the V8 engine).

The 300S also comes standard with handsome 20-inch wheels and our tester mounted Firestone Firehawk GT 245/45/R20 tires.

And, when it comes to sport performance, the 300S looks the part as well, swapping out chrome exterior trim pieces for unique blacked-out and body-colour exterior accents that compliment the sculpted angles, high beltline, added side sills and “new face of Chrysler” with upper and lower grilles.

Also Read: Toyota Avalon 2016 First Drive

The 300S already comes leather-wrapped and loaded with luxuries and driver-assist dynamic technologies, and it also revels in the pulsing sound of 552-watt, 10-speaker Beats audio system. And then our tester goes beyond its trim level limits with an extra $5K worth of options (see details below), adding the cherry on top with a brilliant Redline Tri-Coat Pearl paint job, one of two optional Pearl shades ($300), along with a palette that includes three metallic shades ($195) and four normal no-charge colours.

Chrysler 300S

The 300S badge set alongside sculpted tail lamps with a unique illuminated signature halo.

Some other items of note for 2016 models include the updated Uconnect 8.4-inch infotainment system with an all-new Drag and Drop menu, Siri Eyes Free and Do Not Disturb features.

If that’s not enough, the latest news is that upcoming 2017 300S models have been singled out for further cosmetic upgrades that will include revised interior and exterior sport appearance packages, new Dark Bronze and Titanium finishes, and even a new 300S-exclusive Ceramic Grey paint for fans of the “straight paint” custom matte look.

So, for all its four-door, full-sizes sedan practicality and flagship positioning, the 300S continues to push past its classic design inspiration and limits, adding new technologies, new features and evolving an even sharper edge to its elegance.

Chrysler 300S

The 2016 Chrysler 300S strikes an aggressive stance seen from the rear with strong, muscular haunches framed by LED lighting, a body-coloured spoiler and dual exhaust port accents.

Chrysler 300S 2016

BODY STYLE: Full-size four-door sedan

DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive.

ENGINE: 5.7-litre Hemi V8 (363 hp, 394 lb/ft)

FUEL ECONOMY: 14.8/9.3L/100km (city/hwy); As tested 11.2L/100km (comb) (87)

CARGO CAPACITY: 462 litres

PRICE: MSRP $41,695. As tested $54,615 incl 5.7-litre HEMI V8 ($2,950), Dual Pane Panoramic Sunroof ($1,595), Black Painted Roof ($1.395), Premium Group ($1,000), Safety Tec Groups I & II ($1,390), Uconnect Nav ($700), Light Group ($695), Destination Charge ($1,795).

WEBSITE:  chrysler.ca

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