Alright. There you have it. We’ve all been asking for it. A Chrysler sedan that is bigger, better, more brash than the “bling bling” (cliché I know…) 300. Naturally as Mopar enthusiasts, we would want this ultra-lux Chrysler sedan to be deemed “Imperial.” The Imperial nameplate is somewhat sacred to true Mopar fans; it embodies something higher – the pinnacle of Chrysler luxury. While most of us would like to forget the last Imperial, the previous ones were decent touring vehicles for well healed folks who didn’t want the common Caddy or Lincoln, and looked to save a few thousand on their purchase. If Chrysler keeps that mantra – high value and a quality product – this time around, the the revived Imperial will surely prove to be worthy kin to the wildly popular 300.
So, with the Imperial pictures leaked (Isn’t anyone else sick of these leaks? I sure am. What ever happen to debuts at the shows with all the lights and glamour??), we see the new vehicle in all it’s staged photoshoot glory.
Design wise, I’m split. Don’t get me wrong, I do love it. But, there are a few things that look funky, but can be rationalized. So, let’s do a walkaround of this massive car. Slab sided like the 300, the Imperial has more surface work that helps reduce the visual mass from dead on side view. A sweeping rear fender kick comes from a crease running on the suicide door’s bottoms (which I’ll mention in a second). An additional crease runs from the front edge of the car back to the fender kick where it disappears into sheetmetal. Rearview mirrors are nice and simple and aren’t bulky. While the taller roofline isn’t as boxy (on top) as the current LX family, the C-Pillar is a dead ringer to the 300. Elegant and formal, it works well with the design. The gigantic 22″ wheels look to small only because there is so much mass above them fender wise. That’s design issues number one. While this definitely makes the car looks substantial, I’m not quite sure it does the full trick here. In the end it seems to dwarf the already too large rims (from a real world practically standpoint – remember, this is suppose to be a luxury sedan, and a harsh ride would kill the affect). Maybe if an inch or two was cut off from the fenders (and then, to even it out, the roofline) it would look more pleasing. But anyway, that’s just my opinion. Suicide doors. What? On a current car that is intended to be a mainstream luxury vehicle?! Crazy, I know. But, if any company was going to follow through with this, Chrysler would be it. I don’t believe they would show a concept with ‘em and then switch the production model to regular doors. So, it’s just a slight hunch that they will make production. Wink wink.
Like I said in the N&R thread, the front makes me go “AH” Literally. It’s scary, imposing, and audacious. For anyone who thought the Charger, 300 and Magnum were menacing, they need to take a look at this. Design wise, I can’t even say it’s pretty. It doesn’t have the “jeweled” look that makes a car sexy; it doesn’t have a racy look that makes a car sporty; it doesn’t have an understated elegant look that makes a car “luxurious”, but it certainly isn’t uninspired. It does play on heritage a bit, but if anything, the closest thing it can be compared to is a Bentley or Rolls. And for Chrysler, that’s a great thing! I like it, even thogh it seems kinda a moge-poge of design themes. The grills looks like its a PT Cruiser’s that went to Extreme Makeover, the headlights are two plain circles (that are suppose to look like free standing lights from Imperials of yore. Hopefully, they are an element that “looks better in person”) that lack the jeweled style of the 300C’s, and the foglights are well… Different. Chrome strips under the lights seems unnecessary, but cut down on the area of body colored bumper. The hood looks smaller then it really is thanks to the sides (behind the headlights) being lower than the actual hood that opens. The side fenders curve into the front like a Bentley GT but more upright, and that works. Overall, the front is just as upright as the 300, if not more so, with a substantial gain in height.
So the front and side views look alright. What the heck is with the Imperial’s butt?! For one thing, it’s different! I’m not sure if the designers were going for the Buick Riviera “boat tail” look? From a side rear angle, the car looks evil. Really, it looks just plain mean. If I were a car in Random Joe’s Market parking lot, and this thing was across the lot staring me down, my tires might go flat from fear. But, that might be partly due to the fact I’d think the car was ready to charge me head on, since the end could very well be the front. If the Hyundai looking taillights weren’t the standard red, you might not know, and that is my only other real issue with the design – the taillights. I just wish they were more creative with them, as they surly could have come up with something a wee bit more classy (they aren’t terrible, just a bit out of place) that better fits with the overall car. The rear bumper is large, but works fine since the car is so tall (64″ to be exact). Dual exhausts are a no brainer here, but they could be larger. Nice ovular ones like that on the Bentley GT probably would look at home – I’m not sure why they weren’t placed in the design. The license plate sits in the lower bumper, where it belongs in a luxury sedan. The Chrysler Wings are nicely placed on the Riviera-esque decklid, announcing the car is a Chrysler without any mention of the word “Chrysler” in typeface.
The interior sounds luxurious, if not flamboyant. This could be the point at which they [Chrysler] breakout of the rather drab interior business. While I personally don’t have an issue with the LX interiors (okay, maybe the V6 models are somewhat spartan with vast expanses of gray plastic), many think they could be improved. The Imperial is clad with burl wood and satin-finished aluminum, seating and accents in leather and suede, and even a handcrafted intrument panel containing large watch-like gauges. “Floating armrests” reward passengers, in a cabin that echos warmth and plush comfort with seating for four (there are individual rear buckets). The interior does indeed looks inviting, and will surly win the hearts of some Benz buying executives and 7 Series moms.
I’m inclined to say this car looks wonderful – overall. Overall being the key word. I think the design is a little too mixed, and designers should have tried to focus on maybe one or two models for inspiration, and not the entire lineage of Chrysler cars. Don’t get me wrong, the car is awesome looking, but it needs some work before production. Some bits need to be smoothed down, and please fix the small wheel well to fender issue (which is only bad from the side view) somehow. And the taillights! I’m guessing the headlights (Kyle, were you thinking of these?? ) look better in person. And please, I’m sick of these ugly rims (last found on 2005 300 Limited’s?).
As far as power goes, the 5.7L will see duty. I am a little worried about how much weight the 340 horses will have to pull around, and I’m expecting at least a second hit in 0-60 times from a stock C. Now would be a good time to boost output to 355 horses on the standard Hemi. It also seems natural that this would get the 6.1L (even though an Imperial SRT-8 doesn’t seem to jive), maybe as an upgrade engine or a super-lux option package. Driving this beast will be like driving a BMW 7 or S-Class size wise, and won’t be for the faint of heart. I’m expecting velvety delivery of power through the 5 Speed, Benz-lifted transmission (why can’t we get a 6 speed though?), and “plush” yet firm handling. After all, it does measure in at 214 inches (!!), placing it in the same league as the Crown Vic/Gran Mark.
Price. “…It’s a six-figure image but at a much lower price.” says Tremont. With that said, I’m guessing a base of $49,995, running up past $60,000 fully optioned… $60K for a Chrysler?? Today might just be the right time for it…
Best regards everyone, hope you enjoyed the review, and here’s to an exciting new year – 2006! May Father Mopar bring us many new toys, and joy to fellow Allparians over the next 12 months.