"Whoever appeals to the law against his fellow man is either a fool or a coward. Whoever cannot take care of himself without police protection is both" - Omerta, La Cosa Nostra's code of silence, one that places importance on non-cooperation with authorities, and non-interference in the illegal actions of others.
La Cosa Nostra which translates to "our thing" is a common organizational structure and code of conduct. In pop culture, they are better known as the Mafia and Omerta is their handbook rolled into a word.
In front of me is a car that Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, and Carlo Gambino would've been chauffeured in had they lived in my time. The stories it could've told and the gruesome things it would've seen, would be to the excitement of my ears. Unfortunately or rather fortunately, the Mafia is no longer the prominent institution it once was. If there were such a thing in existence today, they are most certainly no longer men of honor, but plain street thugs.
So where does a car like the 300C end up? Well, in the Philippines you can find them in the garages of patriarchs, matriarchs, businessmen, executives, and people like me, an average man that get to test cars for a living. It's a status symbol, a flex of muscle in wealth and power. It's a tech-filled wonder that makes luxury attainable - the automotive equivalent of the American dream. So what's the dream like?
Like any status symbol, it's shouty. It looks like Queen Elizabeth wearing P. Diddy's jewelry. Everywhere I parked the car people seemed to take a second glance, and that's a good thing if that's your cup of tea. Understated isn't in its vocabulary. In a previous article, I said that the Peugeot 508 had the presence of a brooding hitman, and I stand by it today. This 300C is its boss. It is the Godfather.
In almost every intersection I went to, people let me through. The MMDA and police force always seemed to be a bit softer on me. They'd always let me through flowing traffic while they'd stop the car behind me. Village guards never seemed to notice that the car was void of stickers too. It's a bit of a sad culture of prejudice that we have here, but it speaks volumes about the authority the car exudes. It even allowed me to take it to grounds where automobiles were off-limits and only horses and carriages could pass through.
"It was not built for you to drive like you've been set on fire."
Driving the car is a bit of a treat. If driving an MX-5 is a boodle fight, the big Chrysler is high tea. It has a wide variety of delicious offerings, but you simply do not chow down all of it at once. You take your time. While it has more than enough power to be rushed if necessary, a very healthy stable of 286 horses to be exact, it very much prefers to waft along.
After all, who wants to chug down English tea and swallow four French macarons at once? These are events you enjoy and savour, and the 300C is precisely that. It was not built for you to drive like you've been set on fire.
"It's a cohesive experience that was well-studied by Chrysler."
It was made for you to enjoy the scenery, the in-car conversations, the concert hall audio system and all of life's pleasures along the way. The car doesn't even come equipped with paddle shifters, nor did I look for it. After all, who needs paddle shifters when you can keep your bum cooled through ventilated seats and simultaneously warm or cool your drink?
It's a cohesive experience that was well-studied by Chrysler. You know when a car is so well-sorted from the concept to the end product - and this is one of them. It's never confused. It doesn't pretend to be a basketball pro when all it really knows to do is play chess, and it does it rather well. Checkmate.
"If I don't react at all, it applies the brakes on its own and comes to a complete halt. How does it even do that?"
It's actually a bit of a Silicon Valley geek. There are countless permutations for how you'd like the settings of your car to be. You can adjust steering sensitivity, engine, and vehicle safety. It's so geeky in fact, that it knows when I've gone over the white dotted lines on the highway and it steers me back in place.
It also likes to shout and sound off alarms when a car in front suddenly brakes and I haven't reacted quickly enough. If I don't react at all, it applies the brakes on its own and comes to a complete halt. How does it even do that? I'm not THAT important. My surname isn't Gotti.
The 300C can never be bullied for its driving dynamics. Anyone who comments about how it can't clip the apex like a 5-Series is an idiot. I mean, would you enjoy hooning around a car with the racetrack proficiency of an office building at Clark International Speedway? What you really want to do is to stylishly arrive in Manila Cathedral on Sunday before wafting off for brunch at the Conrad Hotel. After all, that's the natural habitat of this car.
While you're at it, you are going to marvel at the soft and plush rear seats that are even more comfortable than the set in front. You can tell that it was designed for the rear ends of some very important people. Conversations that could alter the future of an entire mob or gang can be held inside too, because it's just so quiet, you feel isolated from the rest of the world. Fancy calling in an airstrike on Bilibid Prison's drug lords? Do it from the back seat of this car.
"I felt like a Mob Boss, except I had to drive myself."
This car is a double-breasted three piece suit. A brilliant facade if you're not that important and a great extension of yourself, if you are. You can be completely incognito and irrelevant until you step into this car, and in five seconds, you're a superstar. Let's face it, not all cars are bought for mind-bending performance. The reasons behind the acquisition of luxury cars don't differ from why people spend tons of cash on haute couture items. Most of the time they are irrational purchases, and the only real purpose they serve is to make us feel good.
Not all cars in this world have that talent, but this one has the capacity to make you feel a lot better about yourself than you really should. On the road, not a lot of cars had the presence and the swagger that this one possessed. I felt like a Mob Boss, except I had to drive myself. You see, unlike an Hermès Birkin tote, this at least gets you to your destination. And when you're done playing Don Corleone, it'll happily waft you back home in supreme comfort and luxury, and straight to what truly matters in life. After all, this is a family sedan.
Quite an outstanding one, actually.