Designing the 2015 Chrysler 300
Brandon Faurote is head of Chrysler Design at FCA US LLC. He’s been with the company since back in the days when it was simply known as Chrysler Corp., even before DaimlerChrysler—he’s been with the company since 1993.
Faurote has spent a considerable amount of time in various positions at the company working on cars. Small cars. Fast cars. Concept cars. And, most recently, large cars.
Large as in the Chrysler 300, which the company unapologetically describes as being a “Big, Bold American Sedan.”
The model year 2011 300 was an all-new car. Between then and now there was the Chrysler 200, a car which arguably reset the bar for a midsize car coming out of southeastern Michigan (as the 200 is actually produced in Sterling Heights, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, the “Imported from Detroit” line could be accurately used for that vehicle; the 300 is built at a plant in Brampton, Ontario, along with platform mates the Dodge Charger and Challenger). And Faurote, perhaps coincidentally, worked on the 200C concept (revealed at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit).
Faurote, speaking of the 2015 300, which is a midcycle refresh, acknowledges that the 200 is a factor that drove some of the changes that were made to the exterior styling of the big sedan (e.g., he points out that the dual exhaust outlets are now more rectangular than round as they had been).
But what is most notable about the 2015 300 is the new front fascia. Yes, there are the now-obligatory LED daytime running lamps (in this case, forming a “C”), and there is what Faurote describes as a “chrome Mobius strip” surrounding the lower grille opening.
Most notable, however, is the grille itself, which Al Gardner, president and CEO of Chrysler Brand, acknowledges is “even more-commanding.” Even the production versions of the 300 have had an unmistakably bold grille (to say nothing of the various aftermarket treatments), but for the 2015 model, the Chrysler designers have created a taller grille with a discrete chrome surround; depending on the trim level of the vehicle (e.g., there is a 300S, which is to sportiness what the 300C is to classiness), the texture of the grille material is also changed. In all cases, the winged Chrysler badge floats on the dark surface. Around back, there are LED tail lamps that provide a halo-like appearance when illuminated. There is a chrome garnish on the rear bumper and a new lower valance in black. The side is little changed. However, Faurote notes that there are seven new wheel designs (the wheels range from 17 to 20 in.) and that wheel design is something that is become of increased importance in the studio.
One of the places that Chrysler—and FCA US overall, it should be said—has really shown of late is in the interior, and with the 300, that’s no different. As has been the case for the past couple years, the interior designers took inspiration from geographies, in this case, from four American cities.
Top-of-the-line is La Jolla, which has a two-tone color scheme, indigo and linen. The seats are Nappa leather, but what’s notable is that they’re also using Foligno leather from Poltrona Frau, a high-end Italian leather company to wrap the instrument panel and the center console. (Presumably there is something to be said for the “F” in FCA.) Because this is the top-of-the-line, the La Jolla interior is limited to the 300C Platinum.
There is Manhattan, with a black leather interior and bright and satin chrome accents. There is Detroit, with black and Ambassador Blue leather. And Sausalito, with a two-tone black and linen interior.
There is a new steering wheel across the lineup, as well as a standard 7-in. full color digital cluster.
In addition to which, there is an electronic rotary transmission shifter rather than the conventional center console automatic stick. And connected to the shifter is the major change to the powertrain, which is the use of the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission for the 5.7-liter V8 standard, as had previously been the case for the 300s with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.
Model year 2005 was the first Chrysler 300 of the modern era. It is a car that put Chrysler on the map in many ways that other then-contemporary Chryslers couldn’t.—GSV
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