When the Chrysler Nassau concept was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, more than a few pundits panned the premium hatch as less than desirable. For one, there aren't a lot of hatchbacks that sell for over $20,000 in the US market, and the Nassau doesn't look cheap. It's also tough for any vehicle to follow up on the success of something as popular as the current 300C, and the Nassau concept had been labeled as a possible next-generation iteration of the RWD mobster/hip-hop sedan.
While there is little doubt in our minds that the Nassau would be in a heap of trouble trying to replace the 300C, we wouldn't be surprised if such a vehicle could serve as a softer, gentler, complimentary vehicle in a future Chrysler lineup. Our opportunity to drive the Nassau was brief, but it gave us a chance to appreciate the concept from behind the wheel, and our overall opinion is fairly positive. Hit the jump to read our test drive of the Chrysler Nassau concept.
Related GalleryChrysler Nassau sunset shoot
Like any vehicle, looks are definitely subjective, and the Nassau has gotten mixed reviews from both our readers and the Autoblog crew. The concept has a very strong stance, aided by huge rims and rubber, and the same wide, RWD architecture as the 300C. The front grille is much less in-your-face than that of the 300, giving the Nassau a more refined look. The headlights and taillamps look fancy and expensive, with brightwork and LCDs galore. The hatch, on the other hand, will take some getting used to, and there's no saying whether it will ever be acceptable. Perhaps if the Nassau were more the Chrysler version of the Magnum we'd like the hatch more, and for all we know it just may be.
Perhaps the most appealing view of the Nassau is from the inside, as richly textured blue and white materials dominate the cabin. The center stack creates an almost Lexus-like V-shape that channels all the way to the back seat. Of course there are several non-working components inside, like the frozen-solid paddle shifters and, well, everything else that isn't a steering wheel, pedals, or the Star Trek-like push button gear selector.
To start the vehicle, you merely push the start button, and you're ready to go. Since that space-age gear selector didn't light up to signify which gear is selected, I kept a foot on the brake just in case. To put it bluntly, the Nassau was a hell of a lot easier to drive than the Dodge Demon we'd driven minutes before, and with the exact engine and chassis as the production 300C, we weren't surprised.
Of all the concepts driven at the Chelsea proving grounds, the only one we had trouble keeping under the 40mph speed limit was the Nassau. It was über-smooth and it kept coaxing the devil in us to punch the accelerator. In the interest of getting invited back to future Chrysler events, we kept Lucifer at bay. We didn't have a very large area on which to test the vehicles, and turns were taken with the greatest of care, so we can't give you a very realistic description of the car's handling.
In all, we hope the Nassau concept is not the next 300C, but we think it could definitely sell as a new-age station wagon. For our money, it's probably better looking than the Imperial concept that has been rumored for production.