chrysler 300c road trip

A Road Trip in a Chrysler 300C

What happens when you get given the keys to a Chrysler 300C for a couple of days? You embrace the oversized American car lifestyle. But, what happens when you get given the keys to a Chrysler 300C for a couple of days while in the States? ROAD TRIP!

chrysler 300c road trip

I went in search of windy and twisting roads up in Wisconsin, 100 miles North of Chicago, Illinois. But once I let the 5.7 HEMI V8 burst into life, I knew that was a lost cause for this big, burly American land yacht. Still, that didn’t stop me from blasting up the I-94 (the Interstate). With it being 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius); I set the A/C to maximum, set the cruise control to 55mph and let Spotify serenade me through the Beats sound system.

chrysler 300c interior road trip

An hour and half later, my time on the Interstate comes to an end and the couch on wheels that is the 300C is back to being the muscle car that it is. I come to a set of lights and can’t help but give the throttle a little blip. The 5.7 HEMI roars back at me, I can feel the whole car sway as I rev. Green; 400hp and 527Nm come into play as I burst away from a stand-still. I refrain from losing my licence quickly. I look at the John Varvatos analogue clock positioned above the Uconnect touch screen infotainment system; it’s 11.45am. I am meeting a group of car people who have an obverse taste in cars at 12pm.

Triumph TR6 TR4 Road Trip

I roll into Silver Lake, Wisconsin, following a Morgan Plus Four. I know I’m in the right place. I arrive at a small industrial unit and outside are an array of Triumph TR4s, TR5s and TR6s, none of which I have seen since I left Dublin three weeks prior. I am meeting with the Illinois Sports Owners Association; the equivalent of the Triumph Classic Owners Club back at home.

Triumph TR6 Road Trip

As I park on the opposite side of the car park, not wanting to offend the British Glory, the 300C John Varvatos Collection’s Phantom Black Pearl paint glistens in the Wisconsin 32 degree sun. I learn that the Signal Red TR6 is a one owner car from new and is very much not standard. The whole car has had work on it over the years with the owner knowing every little detail about the car. He tells me that the front driver-side wing has been painted after someone reversed into him within two weeks of ownership. Both of the doors were re-painted at the dealership before he took delivery of the car. He assumes it was due to damage while the car was being delivered to America. Due to regulations in America, USA-bound Triumphs never got petrol injection. Instead they had dual carburetors putting out roughly 105hp. This is down 20-45hp on the European cars.

Triumph TR4 Road Trip

After we natter about cars and I drool over some of the customer’s cars in the workshop, we head off to Lake Geneva; 16 miles East of Silver Lake. Both Silver Lake and Lake Geneva are where well-off Chicagoans retire for the Summer months and this is apparent in the housing and cars that pass by. Although, the six British sports cars still cause a stir as they rumble through the 20mph zones of these well-to-do neighbourhoods. Not far behind is the Chrysler 300C bellowing through with the V8 happily singing away. Although, it fits in amongst the other American natives.

Triumph TR4 Road Trip

Once I feed on a typical American meal (a chicken salad…), I say farewell to the Brits and go in search of scenic, small country lanes to put this boat to the test. I am recommended that Snake Road is one that fits the bill but is only about a mile long. I reach Snake Road and take off in a giddy fashion only to be slapped right back into reality after the second corner. The 300C is not meant for this, it is not a classic British sports car that loves to be driven to every inch of it’s life in the high rev range. It doesn’t soak up every hair pin corner gracefully. No; it is a loud, mean-looking muscle car that’s purpose is to cause a scene and cruise along a flat, straight surface with the V8 sound track keeping you company.

Triumph TR4 Road Trip

That is the reason why the road out of Lake Geneva was most special to me. It was said straight and flat surface with scenery that made it all worthwhile. Sure, I do love a nimble and quick hot hatch or sports car but it’s good to stray away from the norm every-so-often.

The Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Collection; my choice of V8 HEMI pleasure.

chrysler 300c road trip

Skoda Superb Sportline

Skoda Superb Sportline – Review

It’s no secret that the Irish love a good hatchback or saloon. The Volkswagen Passat is one that is a popular choice. But in recent years, the Skoda Superb has been winning customers over, and too right! But the Skoda Superb Sportline has the potential to be the best sleeper in it’s class.

dsc_0032-min

A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Skoda Superb Sportline
Engine: 2.0TSI Petrol – 280hp and 350Nm
Transmission: 7-Speed DSG Automatic, four-wheel drive.
Price: Prices for the Superb range start at €27,500. Price as tested – €50,156.

dsc_0006-min

I’ve always said it, and I have no shame in admitting it either, but the Skoda Superb is miles ahead of the Volkswagen Passat. In terms of styling, practicality and value for money. This leads me to the love of the Skoda brand. Skoda will do the weird and wacky stuff, along with SEAT, that Volkswagen feels it cannot afford to do. The Superb Sportline is one of these. Who ever thought putting a 280hp 2.0TSI in a family saloon would be a good idea only Skoda? Well, for Ireland anyway. The same engine variant is available in the Passat in other countries.  The Superb Sportline is what Nissan and Toyota used to do with their V6s, only the Superb is actually quite “sporty”.

Styling

However, other than the oddball Dragan Skin Yellow Metallic paintwork, which I dig much like that of the VW Up!, the Superb Sportline would make the ultimate sleeper. But more on that later.

dsc_0047-min

The Superb Sportline, similarly with the regular Superb, is a lengthy, elegant looking family saloon that happens to be effortlessly classy. The whole car measures 4.9m in length and 1.9m in width. This is almost on par with the Passat, but the way it is proportioned, it looks much more elongated.

Interior

Inside, not much differs from a regular Superb. It oodles alcantara and the black headliner is a generous touch. As for rear space, I could rant and rave on it for days on end but that would just be boring. Lets just say, the Skoda could give a  BMW 7-Series a run for its money.

dsc_0058-min

However, I did find the driving position to be awkwardly high. I forever found myself adjusting the driver’s seat position trying to find a lower position. It feels like you are sitting on the car rather than in it.

On The Road

To start, if someone was to ask me to explain the Superb Sportline in one word I would have to say; BRAAAP! The Skoda Superb Sportline can sing and chant all day long, or until the tank is empty, and leave you smiling every time. The four-wheel drive system, much like on the Skoda Octavia RS, is super grippy. 0-100km/h can be achieved in 5.8 seconds, which is brisk I can tell you that.

dsc_0055-min

Although the name suggests that the car is a sports one, it is not a full blown sports saloon. The suspension is wallowy and body roll plays a part when hard cornering. However, 350Nm comes in handy when taking off from the lights leaving some motorists in disbelief.

This leads me to the conclusion that the Skoda Superb Sportsline would make the ideal sleeper. It’s suspiciously quick, makes a nice sound and, with the exception of the Dragon Skin Yellow paint, looks just like a regular Skoda Superb.

dsc_0041-min

Practicality/Boot Space

Just because the Skoda Superb Sportsline has added performance does not mean practicality is compromised. Boot space equals 625l and can be expanded to 1,760l.

dsc_0083-min

Skoda being Skoda, they have added some simply clever features to the Superb Sportline. These include space for a tablet holder in the rear armrest, umbrellas in the doors and easy-open cup holders. All which can be found in the Skoda Kodiaq.

Equipment

The Skoda Superb Sportline adds Interior ambient lighting, sports seats, Gloss Black boot lip spoiler and black headliner, which makes all the difference.

dsc_0072-min

Running Costs

I will admit now that I had a bit of a heavy foot with the Superb Sportline and only managed to average 10.6l/100km. However, Skoda claims that the Sportline is capable of 7.1l/100km. However, this would be near impossible for any driver getting behind the wheel of it.

It costs €570 per year to tax down to the emissions figure of 132g/km of CO2.

Pricing

The Sportline comes in two body styles; a hatchback/saloon and estate. The Skoda Superb Sportline Estate with the 2.0TSI 280hp engine price starts from €49,050; a €1,800 premium over the saloon.

Competition

Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, hot saloons were very much popular with some popular examples including the Ford Mondeo ST220 and some quick variants of Peugeot’s 406 and 407.

Opel Insignia OPC – The Insignia is due an update this year so a new OPC should be on the cards. However, steer clear of the current Insignia OPC for the rate of tax alone; €2,350. If the Corsa OPC is anything to go by, it’s not worth its price tag.

Audi S4 – Although they are in different classes as eachother, the Superb and S4 are the same concept. The S4 is a recent addition to the A4 line-up, as is the Superb Sportline. However, the S4 has a starting price of €69,000. But, it does have more power on tap.

Conclusion

Spec the Sportline right and you will have yourself one of the ultimate sleepers on the road. Spec it in Dragan Skin Yellow and you will have yourself one of the most respected cars on the road. Either way, you will defintely not have made the wrong choice. If you are to take one quote away from this review, let it be; “Brap” (Skoda Superb Sportline, 2017)

dsc_0006-min

Volkswagen Beetle front

Volkswagen Beetle – Review

From the people’s car to a style icon, the Volkswagen Beetle has come a long way. Since the New Volkswagen Beetle was introduced into Ireland in 2000, VW and MINI have been battling it out for the most retro ride. But what gives the Beetle the edge?

Volkswagen Beetle front

A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Volkswagen Beetle R-Line
Engine: 2.0TDI diesel – 150hp and 340Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed DSG automatic, front wheel drive.  
Price: Prices for the Beetle range start at €25,075. Price as tested – €35,350

You Want a Retro Ride? Say No More…

This is the Volkswagen Beetle’s party piece. Subtle retro touches compliment the coupe’s bubble yet masculine-lined Sandstorm Yellow body. Such as, the retro “duck-tail” spoiler, the chrome and black 17-inch Spin alloy wheels and Beetle font. Up front, the big innocent yet focused-eyed headlights take dominance over the two front wings. The thin-mouthed grill breaks the front end. The only thing the New Beetle is missing on the clam-shell bonnet is the chrome handle, otherwise it pays perfect homage to the original car.

Volkswagen Beetle features

Volkswagen Beetle front

Around back, the Volkswagen Beetle features a bubble-butt much like the Volkswagen Touareg. The rounded, bubbly arches give the car the extra bit of uniqueness. Seeing them in the wing mirrors from inside the cabin gives you the feels.

Volkswagen Beetle rear

Interior:

Inside, the Sandstorm Yellow theme continues specifically on the dashboard. The old school panel stretches across the whole width of the dash housing an Original Beetle-style glove box. Above the dash are three dials; an oil gauge, turbo boost gauge and a clock/stopwatch.

Volkswagen Beetle glovebox

Volkswagen Beetle gauges

The interior helps the driver to come to the realisation of the sheer size of the car. The interior is spacious and bright, thanks to the optional panoramic sunroof. The Comfort cloth seats come as standard and are flexible so it is easy to get into a comfortable position for long journeys.

Volkswagen Beetle interior

Although, due to the “bubbliness” of the Beetle, the A, B and C pillars are chunky meaning blind spots are a problem. While the retro, gloss Sandstorm Yellow plastic panel on the dash breaks up the interior, it is surrounding by some cheap, scratchy plastics.

Volkswagen Beetle interior

Do the Beetle’s Bubbly Characteristics Translate Well onto the Road? 

The Beetle can be powered by both petrol and diesel engines ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 engines. The test car I had was the 2.0TDI with the 6-speed DSG. Although the Beetle has a sport mode and is equipped in R-Line trim, it is far from sporty. The 6-speed DSG is hesitant to change gears at times making the 150hp unit feel more sluggish than it is. Throw it into a corner and the body roll holds back your giddiness.

Volkswagen Beetle front

But rather than labeling the Beetle as a sports car, categorise it as a GT cruiser and it becomes a whole different car. The Beetle feels comfortable and composed in normal driving mode. While in this mode, the suspension is giving even with the 18-inch wheels specced. The DSG gearbox lacks responsiveness; up and downshifts can be slow. It would benefit from a seventh gear.

Volkswagen Beetle side

All of this aside, the Beetle is all about the image. The retro looks beat that of the rather dated-looking Fiat 500 and is on par with the MINI.

How Practical is the Volkswagen Beetle?

Up front, the Beetle has enough storage in the glovebox, door pockets and space for a phone in the centre console. The beefiness of the Beetle comes with benefit though as it has a 310l boot. This can increase to 905l with the rear seats folded.

Volkswagen Beetle glovebox

Is the Volkswagen Beetle Well Equipped?

As part of R-Line trim, the Beetle comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with parking assist, cruise control and gearshifter buttons on the steering wheel. Options on this test car included the 171 Pack (€1,217). This includes a panoramic tilt and slide sunroof, 18″ Twister alloys, app connect, discover media and a reversing camera. The Discover Media pack adds Apple Car Play and Android Auto along with a reversing camera, which is built into the rear VW badge.

Now for the Numbers

Throughout my week with the Beetle, I averaged 6.7l/100km. This was mainly based off city, suburban and faster country road driving. The Beetle emits 126g/km of CO2 so costs €270 per year to tax.

Volkswagen Beetle rear

Pricing for the Beetle range starts at €25,075. The test car, including options, costed €35,350.

What Else is on Offer?

The Beetle is a strange one. Obvious competition would be the Fiat 500 and MINI Cooper. But based on practicality and size, that rules the 500 out.

Audi TT – The Audi TT has set quite a trend since it was first seen back in the late 1990’s. It has been a successful coupe for the Volkswagen owned brand but the premium status and badge comes at a price. From €44,500 to be exact.

MINI Cooper – The MINI and Fiat are the go-to-cars in this retro segment. Being an R53 Cooper S owner, I can say that MINI do produce a fun car. Although, they have been making some brave moves lately with the introduction of the 5-door Hatch and Countryman, the latter of which I actually quite like. Plenty of choice from the Brits it seems.

Fiat 500 – Has it been done to death at this stage? Yes. But the 500 still wins over buyers in this segment. Much like MINI, the 500 has expanded it’s horizons with variants like the 500L and 500X. But for me, it’s getting old now. How much life is left in the 500?

Would I Buy a Beetle?

The Volkswagen Beetle is a good Summer cruiser. The 6-speed is sufficient for bopping around town or nipping down the coast. There is also no doubting the coolness of the Beetle. Spec it in a far-out colour and you’ll have the best smile factor car around.

Volkswagen Beetle front