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2017 Chrysler Manta concept car: the future of Chrysler styling

by Robert Miller

Last November, the Chrysler Technical Center (CTC) celebrated its 25th anniversary with an open house for friends and family of FCA US employees.

During the open house, people had a chance to see designs, clay models, and concept vehicles in the FCA US design studio. One design, from FCA US designer John Owens, was called the "Manta," and shows us one possible future for the next full-size Chrysler sedan.

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With its long hood/short deck proportions, the design is clearly rear wheel drive based. Side body lines are a mix of the current 300 and some Chrysler 200 (UF) elements blended towards the rear.

The Manta pushes the current Chrysler design language forward, and tightens the gap from today's Pacifica (RU) design to the language of the Portal Concept (SM-1) shown earlier this year at Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The design shows that the FCA US Product Design Office is still willing to push design forward into a more modern yet sleek package. The greenhouse of the Manta recalls the cab-forward design of the late-1990s and early-2000s Chrysler full-size sedans (such as the Chrysler LHS, Concorde, and 300M). Since 48% of the current 300 sedans sell in "S" trim, this car design retains a sporty look while still carrying a theme that can relate to the current generation of 300.

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While the future of the 300 is still in the air, the Chrysler brand still seems to be working on rear wheel drive based full-size sedan designs. The Chrysler 300 is one of the most recognized vehicles currently on the road. The car itself still have a lot of street credit in the urban scene, and appeals to a younger audience than most Chrysler vehicles have in the past. The Manta looks like it could retain that legacy, if produced.

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There are a few things weighing against the future of the Chrysler 300. One is production availability. Sources tell us that Dodge will continue to build the next generation Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger at the Brampton Assembly Plant in the fall of 2020 as 2021 models. They are said to be based on a larger version of the Giorgio architecture. However, there are rumors about Brampton running production for up to four vehicles (Charger, Challenger, a related crossover, and a related midsize Dodge sedan sometime around 2022), so it may leave the 300 out to pasture.

One thing we have learned is with FCA US, though, is that nothing final until there is a final announcement from the company itself. So until then, there is still hope that the 300 will continue into the next decade.

See our main concept cars page. | 2017 NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show)

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Concept cars are often made so a car's feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials - either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what's being tested. Some are created to help designers think "out of the box." The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.

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