Chrysler 300C Pre-Production Concept Car
Based on information provided by Chrysler, augmented by our interview with Eric R. Ridenour, Chrysler Executive VP - Product Development. Heavily edited for readability.
Drivetrain and suspension: Hemi power, Mercedes suspension and rear-drive transmission
In the concept 300C, the Hemi has about 400 horsepower (nearly the same as the 426 engine most people associate with the name "Hemi") and 350 lb-ft of torque - or thereabouts. Final figures are not yet available, and neither is gas mileage. In addition to running cleaner and using less oil than the elephant engine of years past, the new Hemi is almost silent under the hood of the 300C, at idle and at low speeds.
The 300C will use a Mercedes five-speed automatic, as well as a Mercedes steering system, seat structures, and electronic architecture. It also borrows many suspension components and a basic design from the Mercedes E-class.
Shared components and technologies that will appear on the production version of the Chrysler 300C include a five-speed automatic transmission, suspension components, steering system, seat structures and electronic architecture.
The Chrysler 300C returns to the long hood, prominent grille, and low roofline of classic years. Eric Ridenour, Executive Vice President of Product Development, said, "While the Chrysler 300C pays homage to the very first Chrysler C-300 and other letter series cars that followed, it does so in a thoroughly modern way."
The raised belt-line and low glass-to-body ratio were designed to provide a sense of stability and protection. Surprisingly, visibility is not especially impaired, except in the rear corners, which carry forward the 300M's problems. Chromed details, such as the body side moldings, door handles and window surrounds, add a touch of elegance. There are also more detail elements in the taillights and headlights.
Large tires on 20-inch wheels suggest ample reserves of power, with the rear wheels wider than the front ones as in other high performance sedans to underscore the rear-drive layout. The large 10-spoke rims leave plenty of room for serious brake hardware, while chromed dual exhaust pipes announce the long-awaited return to Hemi ® V-8 power and performance after more than 30 years for a Chrysler car.
The Chrysler 300C's interior has a handcrafted feel and uses distinctive materials and textures throughout. Tortoise shell, for example, is used on the steering wheel rim, shifter knob, and inside door pulls, while door handles and other accents are chrome, inspired by the 1998 Chrysler Chronos show car.
Evolving the design seen on the current Chrysler 300M, a four-gauge instrument cluster with chrome rims and a precision appearance are used in the 300C, setting the new standard for all Chrysler cars. The center of the instrument panel contains an analog clock, navigation system and heated seat switches.
Designer Ralph Gilles said that he had as much liberty as he needed in styling the 300C, asserting that it was as different from the Magnum as it needed to be. He noted that the most important part of the vehicle is the face, which is very different. The rear is, in person, somewhat reminiscent of past Chryslers, most recently the New Yorker (LH version), but before that the Dodge Dynasty and even circa-1970 A-bodies. Like most current Chrysler and Dodge designs, the 300C looks much better in person than in photos.
Mr. Gilles, in an informal conversation, noted that the basic vehicle platform imposed a number of styling restrictions, but that he felt it was very successful and distinctive. He noted that with a more functional look - that is, relatively squarish, though he opposed use of that word - the styling can be very challenging. "Imperfection is not an option," in his words. Every aspect of the exterior and interior was carefully thought out to work together as a whole and achieve a look of sporty luxury - the combination that made the original 300 series so successful.
The interior spaciousness is highlighted by a two-tone treatment, which work together to give the Chrysler 300C a sporty, yet opulent feel inside. The rear seats are split 60/40, and fold down for added versatility.
The spaciousness of the Chrysler 300C is enhanced by the more upright windshield pillars and overall profile of the new exterior design, resulting in a seating position that is two-and-a-half inches higher than the current 300M. This design enhances a command-of-the-road feel and aids easy ingress/egress. It may help to attract some potential SUV buyers, as well - and we suspect that's who the basic design proportions are geared to.
Chrysler 300C show car specifications
Wheelbase: 120.0 inches (3,048 mm)
Overall length: 196.8 inches (4,999 mm)
Overall width: 74.0 inches (1,880 mm)
Overall height: 58.4 inches (1,483 mm)
Front overhang: 34.3 inches (871 mm)
Rear overhang: 42.5 inches (1,080 mm)
Front track: 63.0 inches (1,600 mm)
Rear track 63.0 inches (1,600 mm)
Estimated weight: 4,000 lbs. (1,808 kg)
Front suspension: Short- and long-arm
Rear suspension: Independent five-bar multi-link
Front tire/wheel: 245/45R20, 20 x 8 inches
Rear tire/wheel: 275/40R20, 20 x 9 inches