I am a big fan of the 300 model range. Chrysler has got it just right and having been suitably impressed with the S, the pumped-up SRT blew me away. So the flagship of the brand is doing just fine then – but the company has always struggled, it seems, with the midsize segment.
Remember the Sebring? It was, for want of other words, not very good. In 2010, it was redesigned and renamed the 200, but it lagged behind in the highly competitive segment until another redesign in 2015. Following a refresh this year, I’ve got to say it is now one of the best models in class. Sadly, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has said the model will be discontinued, but at least it’ll go out with a bang.
With stalwarts such as the Camry, Mazda 6, Cadenza, Malibu and the favourite, the Accord, for company, life was always going to be tough for the 200. But I’d bet my last dirham that the 200C I tested would come out very favourably indeed in a group test amongst that lot.
Chrysler really has done a number on this car and taken the pressure off the 300. This is an automobile that we should be seeing a lot more of on our roads; it does everything you’d want your next family hauler to do, and really well, too. For instance, it looks the part; boasting a coupé-like profile, the 200C’s sleek lines guide your eyes from the front to the back with real interest, when in previous generations the temptation might have been to just look the other way. It’s such a smooth exterior that it achieves a Cd of 0.27. That’s second-in-class to the Mazda 6 with 0.26.
The front end features the new floating Chrysler-winged emblem in the thin grille and is flanked by sinewy LED headlights. With a tall rear end reminiscent of a hatchback, the exhaust tips tucked away into the valance and riding on a set of 18in wheels, the body is without a doubt attractive. Even the wing mirrors have been elegantly shaped.
The cabin leaves you similarly impressed; it’s one of the most refined interiors in class. The power-adjustable seats wrapped in Nappa leather offer heating and ventilation, and are as comfortable as your favourite armchair at home. The real wood trim with an exposed edge on the doors and dash is a nice touch and gives the saloon a classy feel.
Head- and legroom up front is plenty; however, due to the sloping roof, space at the back is at a premium in spite of the kink in the headliner. But a dual-pane panoramic sunroof makes it appear more roomy. On the safety front, it has front-side airbags, side curtain airbags, and driver and front-passenger knee airbags, along with forward-collision warning and lane-departure intervention. There’s also a standard reversing camera and rear cross path detection, while the Uconnect infotainment system with a 8.4in touchscreen is clear, concise and intuitive; mastering the functions doesn’t take much time.
Power comes from a lively 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 mated to a nine-speed automatic, which sends 295 horses to the front wheels. When in Sport mode, which turns traction control off, and with 355Nm of torque on tap, the front wheels plead for life every time you put your foot down. It’s fun but it isn’t sporty; you wouldn’t go hunting for corners in this – the suspension set-up is too soft for that. It’s designed to offer a luxurious ride, and if you push it in the corners, you get some body roll. It sure moves in a hurry when you need it to; overtaking manoeuvres are dispatched with ease and overall, the V6 proves more than willing in any situation.
It used to be an also-ran in the family saloon segment, but now the 200C is in the thick of the action. Crucially, it can be had from Dh90,000. Want to stand out from the crowd, have a luxurious cabin and a spirited ride? Get the 200C while you still can.