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LA show: Chrysler 300 now says ‘I’ve arrived’

Facelifted Chrysler 300 to recapture the mojo of 2005 original

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Chrysler logo24 Nov 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in LOS ANGELES

CHRYSLER says its facelifted 300 regains the timeless all-American appeal of the 2005 original while upping the quality and finish standards to European levels.

Due in Australia sometime during the second half of next year, the big rear-drive American sedan features a new face, re-contoured rear and a heavily revised interior to go with a number of engineering upgrades underneath the vehicle.

It was part of a two-year process to improve the appeal of the 300 without losing sight of what made the Mk1 version so popular around the world.

According to Chrysler design boss Ralph Gilles, the devil is in the 300’s details, with a whole series of small but important alterations that, while not changing the overall character of the vehicle, do inject more attitude and personality.

These include redesigned headlights, a mesh grille that is 30 per cent larger than before, and a shift of the ‘Chrysler’ wing badge from the upper-centre to the middle of the radiator, signifying the car’s newfound confident appearance.

Moving the amber indicators from within the headlight cluster to the forward edge of the front wheel arch also instils a wider and more planted look, as well as a cleaner and higher-quality visage.

“The 300 is about ‘I’ve arrived’ and ‘I’ve got presence’,” he told the Australian media at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week.

“American brands should celebrate their uniqueness.” Although the body sides remain the same as the outgoing version released during 2011, Mr Gilles said redesigned alloy wheels help with giving the revised 300 a fresh side-on appearance.

“Don’t forget, this entire car has always been designed around the wheels, so therefore we went for a more animated design than before,” he revealed.

From the rear, the 300 now features what Mr Gilles refers to as a more “sculptured and more formal” appearance, with trim that is “more elegant, more tasteful… yet like a fine weapon”.

The newly restyled tail-lights have lenses that “look like an F22 jet with the after-burners on,” he added.

Other rear-end changes include a new boot lid with a wider surface area that extends into the edges of the tail-lights, a cleaner rear valance, a subtle tail-fin incorporated in the vertical trailing edge of the tail-lights that harks back ever-so-gently to the ’50s heyday of American design brashness, and a plastic bumper diffuser.

“It’s a butt lift – the rounded rear bumper enhances the 300’s stance while making the wheels stand out,” Mr Gilles said. “The sheetmetal now looks like it shrinks around them.” There are also minor aerodynamic improvements brought on by the rounded rump.

Inside, the 300 gains a number of new colour combinations and detailing elements that Chrysler Brand Interiors chief designer, Chris Benjamin, said really give the American car a premium international level of quality.

These include open-pore wood inserts, leather stitching for the leather dashtop panel, perforated quilted seat patterns and steel inserts within the steering wheel rim on certain variants, a modernised instrument cluster and centre console with new screen graphics and updated media systems, and a redesigned gear lever that helps denote the newly installed nine-speed automatic transmission in some models.

“The cabin quality uplift is about offering buyers more but not charging buyers more,” he said.

“It’s quality and craftsmanship for all – for hard working people, not just for the rich. This is Chrysler’s philosophy.”

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