The Country Estate
I was going to write about how big the car seemed on British roads, or how it doesn’t fit in small urban parking spots, or how it doesn’t hold much luggage for such a huge wagon.
All of these things are true. However, I was bowled over by the power and smoothness of its Mercedes-sourced 3.0-liter diesel V6. Plus, the fuel economy was impressive for a car the size of the Houses of Parliament. I averaged 33mpg on the motorway, and 28 in town, which, at two dollars to every pound, was great news.
It is a rarity on British roads – I only saw one other example of the Touring in the UK. It doesn’t seem to be selling too well there despite a keen price. This is a shame, because it is a very capable car. American cars are usually softly sprung for our straight highways and wallow like jello on twisty British roads.; I did a lot of hammering along tiny British country lanes that curled and swooped or bent into sudden 90 degree corners, and the 300C chassis handled it all with surprising agility. The only thing that spoiled the fun was the auto box’s sluggish kickdown – it feels like an age before anything happens, a bit of an issue if you need to swiftly overtake the odd farm tractor or Sunday driver.
The combination of 300C front end matched with Dodge Magnum rear makes for a very handsome wagon, and it certainly drew a lot of attention in the North East of England. Everyone from schoolboys to businessmen gaped at its roof-chopped muscle-car looks and Bentley-esque mesh grille. Nobody knew what it was, but they liked it. “It’s a canny size, that,” said the admiring parking attendant in the seaside town of Tynemouth. “That armrest is like a suitcase!”
Achieving Americas ferocious emissions standards for diesel is still a challenge, but we hope DaimlerChrysler will continue to roll out its clean Bluetec engines because Americans would enjoy so much power with economy.