JUST TESTED: Boston Acoustics' in-car audio system for the Chrysler 300C
We like a bit of bling here at whathifi.com, and there's nothing understated about the Chrysler 300C. You'll either love its brutish all-American looks, or hate them, but either way there's no denying the car looks menacing in the glossy black finish of our test model.
However, it's not the car itself we're interested in here, but rather the audio system within it. Being made in the US of A, it's hardly surprising that Chrysler turned to the expertise of US speaker specialist Boston Acoustics to develop the system.
The basic model of the car comes with the Boston Acoustics audio package as standard, but spend £5000 more and you get the SRT Design-spec 300C we have here, complete with a touchscreen sat-nav package with built-in 20GB hard disk for ripping CDs.
How does it sound? Well, you're about to find out.
Goes very, very loud cleanly; surprisingly assured balance; plenty of power; good to use and live with
Doesn't have proper iPod support
For a standard-fit system, this is a cracker – even when you add the optional hard-disk system, it's not madly expensive
Put simply, this is one of the best standard-fit audio systems we've tested. OK, in absolute terms, the Mark Levinson system in a Lexus LS600h L or a Naim system in a Bentley is a better-performing package, but those cars cost a packet next to this surprisingly affordable Chrysler.
And the Boston Acoustics speaker system really works well, too. Even the basic model of the car comes with it as standard: spend £5000 more and you can upgrade to the SRT Design-spec 300C shown here, which includes the speaker system and a touchscreen sat-nav package with integral 20GB hard-disk.
Able to support external audio sources via both USB and 3.5mm external sources, it also comes with the Gracenote compact disc database pre-loaded, and so can be used for directly ripping and storing music from your favourite CDs.
The advantage? Instant access to onboard music storage – around 1600 tracks – with no need to hook in or carry around your iPod. Nice.
Additionally, the disc mechanism can also play and display DVDs, but only when the car is stationary. You'll need to invest in the optional rear-seat entertainment system (£1250), which sits on the centre console between the front seats for the benefit of your passengers, if you want the full movies-on-the-move experience.
Sound is simply enjoyable
And sound quality? Despite being fairly prosaic next to the theoretically more advanced systems sported by some cars we've tested, the 300C's hi-fi still sounds terrific.
That's partially because it uses big, straightforward drive units placed a good way away from the driver inside a big, straightforward interior: it's also because the amplifiers fitted appear to be very good quality.
Certainly, in our test car, you could crank the volume to silly levels with very little distress, and the Boston Acoustics package has enough bass – and places it well enough within the car – to avoid the boom'n'bass lag that can afflict some vehicles.
The touchscreen interface, meanwhile, is worth the extra cash. It simply makes operating the system a doddle, and while it's a shame there isn't a proper, dedicated iPod input (with charging and music file identification), the onboard Gracenote/hard-disk is decent compensation. So, this system is cracking value – much like the car.
Drive units 2 x 8.9cm mid-high/front, 2 x 15cm x 23cm bass/front, 2 x 15 x 23cm bass/rear
iPod support 3.5mm input
DAB support No
TV option No
Touchscreen control Yes