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2015 Chrysler 300S Preview / Test Drive

by Patrick Rall in
December 2014 (4.5)

The 2015 Chrysler 300's facelift gives it a sportier look, but the 2015 300S takes that sportiness to a whole new level.

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Chrysler 300 Full-size car

Most notably, the chrome accents you find throughout the rest of the 300 lineup are replaced with black accents, including the upper and lower grille openings, the headlight bezels, and the side window trim. The 300S wears unique black-chrome 20-inch wheels are a final exclamation point to the sport package.

There is no SRT 300 in North America, but Chrysler shoppers who want a muscular, sporty luxury sedan should find the 2015 300S to be a good alternative - especially when the big sedan is fitted with the optional 5.7L Hemi V8 that I had in my test car. Adding the Hemi also adds unique lower side sills and a low profile rear spoiler that you do not get with the V6.

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While the 2015 Chrysler 300S is the sportiest looking new trimline, it is more than just an appearance package. The 300S has a retuned sport suspension with better handling than the previous 300S, but it does so without killing the ride quality that you would expect from a modern luxury sedan.

The ride is a little stiffer than the 300 Limited or 300C, but that slight compromise in ride quality is more than countered by an improvement in handling that you can feel when slicing through a series of tight turns or soaring along the highway at high speeds. The 2015 300S also has the new Sport Mode button, which sharpens the throttle and steering response while also adjusting the transmission shift points to improve performance. When set to Sport Mode, the 8-speed automatic transmission can get from gear to gear in just 250 milliseconds, and it also holds the gears longer for improved acceleration in almost every driving situation.

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New for 2015, any Chrysler 300 comes with the 8-speed automatic transmission; in prior years, Hemi-powered cars came with the old 5-speed gearbox. This new 8-speed TorqueFlite improves low and mid-range acceleration thanks to the increased ratios, but new fuel-friendly higher gears help keep revs low when cruising on the highway and that improves overall fuel economy. In other words, this new 8-speed transmission improves the 2015 300S in every way.

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Mid-size car Alloy wheel

The transmission is a masterpiece, with calm, almost unnoticeable shifts under normal driving circumstances and lightning quick, precise shifts during stints of spirited driving. Drivers who want to control the shifts will love the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, which offer an impressive amount of precision. Unlike some other manually shifted automatics, which shift when they want to, after the driver has selected an upshift or downshift, the new 8-speed TorqueFlite changes gears right when you ask for that shift.

The 3.6L Pentastar V6 is standard for the 2015 Chrysler 300S, but my test car had the Hemi V8. The power remains unchanged at 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque, but as mentioned above, the new transmission allows you to make better use of this power for hard acceleration.

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Chrysler 300

Whether you are launching from a stop, putting the hammer down in the mid-range to pass a slower moving car or making a long, high speed run on the highway, the combination of the Hemi and the 8-speed transmission offer impressive forward thrust so, while American buyers cannot pick a more powerful SRT model, the Hemi powered 300S does a fine job of answering the call of buyers who want the most performance possible from their 2015 Chrysler.

On the inside, the 2015 Chrysler 300S is every bit as sporty as the exterior, almost entirely black, accented with silver here and there to create a look that is both luxurious and sporty. My test car was fitted with the 300S Premium Group, which adds a dual panoramic sunroof, navigation, HD radio, and a great many high tech safety features; when combined with the incredible list of standard features, my test car felt like a proper luxury car inside.

Vehicle Car Personal luxury car Mid-size car Gear shift

Some of my favorite standard features included the booming Beats audio system, easily controlled from the comfort of the steering wheel mounted controls, and the leather sport seats; while the massive sunroof is easily my favorite optional aspect of the interior. The 300S Premium Group adds $3,295 to the final price - but the package is worth every cent.

Speedometer Car Vehicle Luxury vehicle Gauge

The 2015 Chrysler 300S looks like a proper luxury sport sedan on the outside, while the amenities allowed the interior to be as comfortable and as impressive as many of the far more expensive luxury sedans which I have tested. Best of all, the combination of the aggressive electric steering setup, the sport tuned suspension, and the powerful Hemi V8 makes this a great looking luxury sedan that packs the grunt of a muscle car and the cornering abilities of a grand tourer.

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