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Chrysler launches cars, confirms 8-speed V6 in future

by David Zatz on

At a presentation this morning, Chrysler officially launched the 300C. Olivier Francois, CEO of the Chrysler brand, started as usual with an emotional speech; he talked about last year, when there were no new products, and the future of the company was in doubt.

“This is a story about how people react when their backs are against the ropes. … You will see the new Chrysler 300 and you will know we came out swinging. … It has something that runs deeper than sheet metal. It has a legacy. … and this Chrysler 300, the latest in a line of kings, is built to fulfill it.”

The 300/300C has, of course, been seen in numerous spy shots; and it had already been shown in official press photos. When black, white, and blue 300s rolled onto stage, they garnered applause.

The car has a new powertrain, suspension, skin, and interior. It was an investment of over $1 billion, “designed to deliver the best.” The V6 generates 292 horsepower, and is soon to get an 8-speed automatic with gas mileage approaching 30 mpg (this is the first affirmation that the eight-speed will be available with the V6).

The 8.4 inch touch screen is “not only the largest in its segment, but practically an iPad in your car. … It’s a great car to be driven in, but it’s an even greater car to drive.” The car was designed to provide complete cabin silence, Francois said, except when you put your foot down and want to hear the power note.

The safety mechanisms are extensive, including the usual rear cross path, blind spot monitor, numerous airbags, and various braking enhancements (as used on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee).

Ralph Gilles came on stage and noted how the car had become an icon; it had to become more mature, more luxurious, and more beautiful, without losing its status and the unique parts of its design. Mopar will continue the “heritage” and “what we call the Bentley grille” as aftermarket pieces. The new grille, though, is to be “the” Chrysler grille.

It’s “much more windswept,” and the headlights were inspired by the eagle; other details were inspired by jewelry, and numerous design elements were used for aerodynamics. The “sprung beltline” was based on bridges such as Mackinaw Island Bridge. The idea is to move forward, “but never forget where we came from.”

Francois returned to introduce the 200 and Town & Country, noting that the minivan had reclaimed best-selling status in the U.S. (it is #2 in the world after the Dodge version).

“We took the best minivan in the country and made it better. … now with amazing driving dynamics and unmatched safety technologies.” New suspension, new wheels, six speed transmission, best in class engine power. No other vehicle in its class offers the same safety standards.

The D segment (midsized cars), though, is the most important class in the U.S.; that made the 200 essential. Since they were able to read off numerous critical accolades for the 200, it was not a typical launch.

What the three have in common, according to Francois, is that people no longer have to “cross the ocean” to get what can be made in the US.

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