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Detroit show: Chrysler’s new 300C is all class

Imposing: Chrysler has toned down the 300C's aggressive front-end styling, but retained the stocky silhouette.

Chrysler is set to take on world’s best large luxury sedans with its all-new 300C

10 Jan 2011

WE SAW the first images of Chrysler’s long-awaited new-generation 300C as far back as February 2009, when the embattled American auto giant presented a long-term viability and restructuring plan to the US Congress.

Almost two years later, the company’s big, bold flagship sedan will be centre stage for Chrysler at tonight’s Detroit motor show, making its public debut just days after Chrysler Group (and Fiat) chief executive Sergio Marchionne formally marked the start of production for the vehicle at its Brampton assembly plant in Ontario, Canada.

To be priced from $US27,995 in its home market, the impressive new 300C will, however, not be seen in Australia until 2012, with Chrysler Australia sticking with the current Austrian-built model until supplies run out later this year.

As GoAuto has reported, Chrysler’s top-selling model may be unavailable in Australia for a period of months until the new 300 becomes available for our market during next year.

11 center imageThe Dodge Charger muscle-car, which is built off the same platform as the 300C and rolls down the same production line, remains off the agenda for sale in Australia, with right-hand drive still to be confirmed.

“The 300 is the flagship of the Chrysler brand,” Mr Marchionne said. “This all-new 2011 model has a lot to live up to, as its predecessor was the most awarded vehicle in North American automobile history. A tough assignment, but I think you will agree that it is up to the challenge.” The 300C continues to strike an imposing stance and has the same distinctive rear-drive-accentuated proportions of the current model, although Chrysler designers have attempted to arrive at a more “tailored appearance” via more attention to detail across the vehicle in terms of body sculpting and practical elements such as aerodynamics and driver visibility.

Examples of the latter include a more steeply raked windscreen, thinner pillars and ‘rolled-framed’ doors, together providing a claimed 15 per cent more visibility.

A long ‘A-line’ crease along the flanks aims to emphasise the long wheelbase, while chrome highlights and (optional) 20-inch polished alloy wheels are designed to deliver “a touch of world-class sophistication”.

To that end, Chrysler is boasting not just ‘elegant style’ with the new 300, but grand touring performance, best-in-class seat comfort and “the precision, refinement, premium materials and quality of the world’s best E-segment luxury sedans”.

The completely overhauled interior is a key reference point, with Chrysler pointing to the vehicle’s authentic materials, high-grade creature comforts and “precise fit and finish” – all delivered in “expressive style”.

There are bona fide wood veneers available, liberal use of premium soft-touch trim, optional heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats, chrome detailing that aims to impart a ‘milled aluminium’ look, sapphire blue LED-illuminated ambient lighting, corresponding blue instrument lighting and a high level of infotainment and convenience technologies, including an oversized 8.4-inch touchscreen navigation system.

Standard features across the range run to dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, keyless entry/start, automatic bootlid opening, ‘acoustic’ windscreen/front-door glass, a 12-way powered driver’s seat (including four-way lumbar), 60/40 split-fold rear seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a comprehensive trip computer.

Standard safety equipment includes seven airbags (multi-stage front, seat-mounted side-thorax, full length side-curtain and a driver’s knee airbag), anti-whiplash front head restraints, ESC, hill-start assist, ‘rain brake support’, ‘ready alert braking’ and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Optional safety features on US-spec cars, bracketed in a ‘SafetyTec Group’, include adaptive-forward lighting, bi-Xenon headlights (with automatic levelling), a forward collision warning system, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring (with ‘rear cross path’ detection), LED-illuminated rear foglights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, and more.

A Limited model is also available from $US31,995 and comes with a raft of higher-grade features, such as 18-inch wheels (up from standard 17s), leather trim, a rearview camera (over standard front/rear proximity sensors) and premium audio.

A Luxury package is also available at Limited level, adding various other luxury and convenience items, such as power-adjustable pedals, the aforementioned Nappa leather, heated rear pews and heated/cooled cup-holders.

Chrysler is still to provide detailed technical specifications for the 300C ahead of its North American showroom arrival later this quarter, but has confirmed that power will come from either a 218kW/353Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar flex-fuel V6 engine – paired with a five-speed automatic transmission and offering an eight per cent improvement in fuel economy – or the familiar 5.7-litre HEMI V8 with cylinder deactivation technology and 363hp (271kW) on tap.

Chrysler claims the HEMI can send the 300C from 0-60mph (96.5km/h) in less than six seconds.

An all-wheel-drive model will also be available with the V8, adding a ‘segment-exclusive’ active transfer case and a front-axle disconnect system that is said to improve fuel economy (with the return to rear-drive, as required) by up to five per cent compared to other AWD systems.

In addition, the AWD model features ‘touring-tuned’ suspension and brake calibration, a 4mm lower ride height, and larger 19-inch wheels with 235/55-section performance tyres.

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