The Chrysler 300C model marks the return of the HEMI engine to the Chrysler brand after nearly 50 years. The legendary engine design that powered Chrysler's letter series cars in the 1950s has been re-engineered and reborn as a modern, high-performance, fuel-efficient and durable powerplant known as the all-new 5.7-liter HEMI V8. With 340 hp DIN and 387 pound-per-feet of torque, the Chrysler 300C can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
The Chrysler 300C will be the first modern volume production vehicle produced in North America to feature cylinder deactivation when it goes on sale in Europe and other international markets beginning in the summer of 2004. The Chrysler Group's Multi-Displacement System (MDS) seamlessly turns off the fuel consumption in four cylinders of the 5.7-liter HEMI engine when V8 power is not needed. This provides a world-class combination of outstanding performance, power and very competitive fuel economy.
"Our new generation of vehicles will separate us from the pack," said Dieter Zetsche, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chrysler Group. "The MDS system on our HEMI V8 will be a first for a modern volume car produced in North America and will deliver a 10 to 20 per cent increase in fuel efficiency."
Transferring all this power to the pavement is Chrysler's new rear-wheel drive architecture. Rear-wheel drive offers improved handling with front wheels steering and rear wheels driving. With tremendous advances in tire technology and electronic stability control, Chrysler brings back the rear-wheel drive passenger sedan.
"The introduction of the Chrysler 300C marks an important new chapter in the evolving history of our brand internationally and is one of the most important episodes of our continuing product offensive," said Thomas Hausch, Executive Director of International Sales and Marketing. "The all-new 300C is a great car with a class-leading list of standard equipment and excellent value. It will play a significant role in further establishing the Chrysler brand in markets outside North America."
The Chrysler 300C Touring - a wagon version of the 300C to be introduced later this year - will expand the model range by building upon the attributes of the Chrysler 300C Sedan. The Chrysler 300C range will be sold in more than 100 countries around the world.
Simply stated, the Chrysler 300C signals a new design direction that will make everything else on the road seem ordinary.
"We wanted to return to the proud, powerful lines that once made American automobiles the envy of the entire industry, but do so in a thoroughly modern way," said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President of Design. "At the same time, we identified a dramatic new design direction that continues the Chrysler brand's long-standing tradition of innovative design."
The striking new proportions of the 300C were made possible by the decision to move the next generation of Chrysler sedans to rear-wheel drive, after more than 10 years of cab forward front-wheel drive designs. Used widely among premium and luxury brands, the rear-wheel drive configuration gave company designers the freedom to sculpt a longer bonnet and new proportions, while maintaining a spacious interior package.
"Modern elegance and innovation have always been hallmarks of the Chrysler brand, and the 300C illustrates those values in a very strong and proud way, just as the first 'letter series' C-300 did nearly 50 years ago," noted Creed.
From the front, the Chrysler 300C will not be mistaken for any other automobile on the road. The 300C wears the most elegant execution of the Chrysler face yet - the grille is tall and bold, inspired by the memorable V-10-powered Chrysler Chronos concept car that made its debut in 1998 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The newly rendered Chrysler wings flow seamlessly into the grille header and contain the gold seal of the brand, providing a proud and instantly recognizable design cue.
The headlamp shape supports the new face of Chrysler. Interior components of headlamps and taillamps have been given the attention of fine jewelry. The headlamp on the Chrysler 300C model employs a projector low-beam lamp for world-class lighting performance contained in a unique circular lamp bezel which calls attention to itself because of its design and precise execution. The inboard circular shape in the bezel is smaller in size and contains a conventional high beam packaged under a park and turn lamp. The circular theme is carried into the taillamp as well, with a prominent circular shape containing the stop function at the top of the lamp. This lamp also has a unique horizontal stripe graphic delineating turn and back-up functions and pays homage to the Chrysler 300 from the late Fifties.
Special attention was given to the design of the exterior mirrors and door handles. The mirrors were shaped in the wind tunnel to maximize aerodynamic efficiencies and minimize the mass of the structural components to achieve a light and unobtrusive appearance. The chrome or body-color mirror head supports the upscale appearance objective. The door handles as well are a new pull style design that look substantial, feel good in the hand, and add to the overall upscale appearance of the car.
The body is finished off by a handsome body-color and bright molding that carries on to the front fender. On the Chrysler 300C's trunk lid is a badge that carries the name 300C with the word HEMI underneath it, letting everyone know that there is something special under the bonnet. Large tires on standard 18-inch wheels suggest ample reserves of power. The large five-spoke, split-spoke rims leave plenty of room for serious brake hardware.
Chromed dual exhaust pipes on the 300C model announce the long-awaited return to HEMI V8 power and performance after nearly 50 years for a Chrysler car.
"The new Chrysler 300C embodies what we call a holistic approach to design," said Creed. "Every line, every angle and every proportion must not only work together inside and out, but provide a visual promise for the rest of the automobile, including the driving experience."
In keeping with this holistic approach, Chrysler 300C's interior continues the noble, proud themes of the exterior, with a more upright windscreen and seating position which offers a spacious feel. The seating position itself has been raised 2.5 inches higher than the Chrysler 300M to enhance the command-of-the-road feel and aid in easy ingress and egress.
Distinctive materials and textures provide a handcrafted feel and provide an upscale feeling to the interior.
"Chrysler 300C's beauty is more than skin deep," said Creed. "We paid a lot of attention to the small details, individual appointments and fits, which together convey a feeling of richness to both the driver and passengers."
For example, faux tortoise shell is used on the steering wheel rim, shifter knob and inside door pulls, complemented by chrome door handles and other accents inspired by the 1998 Chrysler Chronos show car. Evolving the design seen on the current Chrysler 300M, a four-gauge instrument cluster with light silver faces and chrome trim rings conveys a precision appearance setting the new standard for all Chrysler cars. The center stack of the instrument panel contains an analogue clock and highlights the new HVAC controls and radios that were designed with minimal gaps and efforts to achieve a precise feel and world-class appearance objectives. A new premium radio with an integrated navigation system is also available. The center stack area is in satin silver on the Chrysler 300C. The centerpiece of the center console is the shift knob finished in available premium leather and faux tortoise shell that highlights the new gated shifter and five-speed automatic transmission for greater driving enjoyment.
A two-tone color treatment on the interior featuring light colored lower surfaces conveys spaciousness and gives the Chrysler 300C a sporty, yet opulent feel inside. The rear seats have a center folding armrest with integrated cup holder, and are configured with a 60/40 split for added versatility.
"Just like the all-new Crossfire, the Chrysler 300C embodies the very essence of the Chrysler brand," said Creed.
"Rear-wheel drive offers the best vehicle balance and handling, and a performance-car experience without any compromises in performance or premium feel," said Eric Ridenour. "It separates the steering and acceleration duties. This eliminates compromises and enables enhanced performance and handling."
Rear-wheel drive architecture allowed the design studio significantly to alter the overall profile of the vehicle for premium and performance proportions. Most notable are a longer bonnet and front fenders, short front overhang, and improved ride, handling and impressive stance that comes with the tires pushed to the corners.
Advancements in technology in the last five years enable a rear-wheel drive large car to perform with all-season capability. Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), All-speed Traction Control System (TCS), advanced Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and tire technologies have reached new levels of performance.
The rear-wheel drive system mounts the engine and transmission in a north/south configuration in the vehicle. It includes a two-piece driveshaft that incorporates a unique Chrysler Group collapsing feature to enhance passenger protection during frontal and offset frontal impacts. The remainder of the system consists of a cradle-mounted rear differential and two half-shafts. The rear differential is double isolated and precision machined for significantly reduced noise, vibration and harshness.
Chrysler 300C is engineered to offer a smooth, luxurious ride while maintaining a feeling of control and confidence. Effort was also focused on minimizing noise, vibration and harshness, resulting in a driving experience that is smooth and quiet. For markets outside North America, Chrysler 300C has a unique steering, suspension calibration and wheel and tire set-up that is adapted towards higher speed ride and handling. The HEMI-powered Chrysler 300C offers athletic and nimble suspension and steering characteristics, with the front and rear suspension tuned for greater handling performance. A well damped ride, with reduced body roll, gives the customer a precise and responsive driving experience. "We designed the suspension to be very responsive while delivering superb ride and comfort," said Eric Ridenour. "The front and rear suspension are all-new. We used a short and long arm design in the front and a sophisticated five-bar link, independent rear suspension. The suspension will delight performance drivers with excellent handling and improved responsiveness while also providing impressively smooth ride characteristics."
An all-new short and long arm (SLA) front suspension provides excellent handling and ride characteristics. High upper control arms, which place the upper ball joints above the tires, provide suspension articulation that helps keep the tires perpendicular to the road during cornering for high adhesion. Lateral links and tension struts, rather than one-piece lower control arms, position the lower ends of the steering knuckles. These links attach to the steering knuckle via separate ball joints. Multiple bushings offer flexibility to tune for ride and comfort. This architecture creates a virtual pivot point for the tire to reduce reaction to bumps that would otherwise be perceptible at the steering wheel.
The five-link independent rear suspension system allows independent tuning of handling and ride comfort so that each can be maximized for a no-compromise situation. The rear suspension has been developed to complement the performance of the front suspension for a very balanced vehicle.
Multiple aluminum links maintain independent control of camber and toe during suspension movement for excellent handling. Multiple bushings offer flexibility to tune for ride and comfort. Stabilizer bar attachments to the knuckles provide maximum response to vehicle lean in the Chrysler 300C.
The rear suspension is isolated from the passenger compartment to provide a quiet and smooth ride. All rear suspension components, except the coil springs and shock absorbers, mount on a steel cradle that attaches to the body structure through four large rubber mounts. Premium urethane jounce bumpers provide smooth progressive engagement over sharp bumps to minimize harshness.
Power rack and pinion steering has an overall ratio of 16.1:1 on all models. The steering effort is varied to balance comfort and ease of operation with feel and responsiveness requirements. The steering gear mounts to the suspension cradle through two spool isolators that are tuned to minimize road noise while delivering steering responsiveness. Friction is minimized to enhance steering precision.
The steering systems deliver light parking efforts, without compromising steering performance at speed. In addition, the systems are also tuned to match the handling capabilities of the vehicles.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all Chrysler 300C models. Ducts in the front fascia direct cooling airflow to the front brakes, reducing front brake temperatures by up to 15 per cent in heavy use for enhanced performance and longer lining life. High caliper stiffness facilitates firm pedal feel and linear response with increasing demand for braking effort. To reduce rolling resistance for better fuel economy, all models use low-drag calipers.
Designed with a large, easy-to-read screen, voice guidance and a number of unique options, the DVD-based navigation system has features that will appeal to both road travellers and music enthusiasts alike.
The navigation radio system is housed in the center of the vehicle's dashboard, which is convenient to both the driver and passenger. This system features a large 5.8 inch full-color display, MP3 player compatibility, AM/FM stereo, six-disc CD system and navigation system in one unit. An eight-way joystick allows the user to scroll through the navigation menus and icons quickly and effortlessly.
The system guides the user through the drive route providing voice commands, kilometer by kilometer, turn by turn until the final destination is reached. Destinations may be entered into the system 10 different ways, and the screen may be viewed as a detailed map or enlarged to be viewed turn by turn.
"With MP3 capability and the option to add various entertainment and communication features, the navigation system is clearly in the forefront of information and entertainment technology," said Jack Withrow, Director of Vehicle Entertainment and Communications. "The system effectively calculates the quickest and most accurate route and immediately redirects the driver should he or she veer off path, you may never have to stop and ask for directions again."
The navigation system features a single DVD solution that contains mapping, points of interest and business phone numbers (where digitized mapping data and information are available). The single DVD solution eliminates the need to handle and store multiple discs required in CD-based solutions.
In addition, route calculations may be made quickly with Alpine's proprietary software algorithms which provide routing information within 10 seconds. This is crucial when a driver misses a turn and needs an immediate re-route.
The navigation system receives its GPS, or global positioning system, signals from up to eight satellites to display the position and direction of the vehicle. A gyroscope and the vehicle's speed sensor enable the system to display the present vehicle position even in locations where a GPS signal may not be available. When a destination is entered, the navigation system uses data from the DVD to quickly calculate a route.
The newest vehicle to make its debut in the Chrysler Group lineup, the Chrysler 300C with rear-wheel drive technology is the total package of engineering and technological advancements designed to protect as well as perform. The Chrysler 300C marks the Chrysler Group's return to a HEMI-powered rear-wheel drive car platform after nearly five decades. Many manufacturers of premium and performance sedans retained rear-wheel drive because of the superior performance and handling characteristics. The rear-wheel drive configuration of the Chrysler 300C gave designers the freedom and flexibility to create a strong body structure with new dimensions. Advancements in technology enabled Chrysler Group engineers to develop a rear-wheel drive large-car platform with all-season capability.