LA show: Chrysler 300C facelift

YOU MIGHT not have guessed it, but it turns out what the design of the Chrysler 300 range needed was an even bigger grille.

The bold American company has unveiled a distinct facelift of the 300 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The physical changes to the car’s looks are all about getting the 300’s sense of “presence” back, according to Ralph V. Gilles, Chrysler’s Senior Vice President of Design.

“The size of the grille has increased around 30 percent, so we’ve got back to that heroic proportion,” Gilles told Wheels as he walked us around the car, picking out the parts he’s most proud of.

“The new design is also about celebrating the wing badge, that’s why it’s placed so prominently, floating on the grille.

“People ask us why didn’t we make the car more sleek and all that, but I think it’s sleek in its own way. It has a very distinctive profile, there’s no other car in the world that has a profile still like it, and probably won’t ever again. We’re being distinguished by our own uniqueness.”

Gilles says the 300 has always been built around its 20-inch wheels, and the giant arches that hold them, and there’s now a whole new range of aftermarket-looking wheel options.

The new look is similar to the many customised versions of this car that have become so popular. It’s in your face, with an even bigger face.

At the rear are new tail-lights that are designed to look like jet thrusters, according to Gilles. While inside there are new trim options with American-themed names like Sausalito, Manhattan and Detroit.

A new eight-speed automatic (up from a steam-age five-speed) is the only major mechanical upgrade. The smoother transmission will provide fuel economy improvements of around six percent.

Other changes under the skin include new electric power steering and a new “Sport” mode for 300S and 300C models, which sharpens steering and gearbox response. The engine range is unchanged with a 3.6-litre V6 or a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 driving the rear wheels.

The 300 is currently priced between $43,000 and $66,000 in Australia, and that figure is unlikely to change when the facelifted version arrives next year.

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