• Sep 21st 2009 at 1:29PM
  • 84
When you were a kid, there was probably a point when your mom or dad told you that you could one day be president of the United States. They probably didn't really mean it, but at least they wanted you to push yourself a little harder to achieve life's goals. Fiat appears to be in a similar situation with its new underling, Chrysler. The Italian automaker is working through a far-reaching game plan for the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, and it sees Chrysler competing in the luxury space. Chrysler brand CEO Peter Fong is setting the bar high, too, as he sees the brand being "a notch above Lincoln, a notch above Cadillac."

You may recall former parent Daimler had similar aspirations for the Chrysler brand, with vehicles like the 300 and Pacifica leading the way. While the 300 had some success and commanded a reasonably high MSRP, the Pacifica was a comparative failure. Then Chrysler followed up with the Sebring, which put to bed any hopes and prayers for an upscale Chrysler brand. Fong told Automotive News that Chrysler needs to be better differentiated from Dodge; a nameplate that management wants to be known more for driving dynamics. The only marque that will likely remain largely intact after Fiat's sweeping changes is Jeep, and even then, the Jeep lineup will likely receive more small, front-wheel drive-based vehicles in an effort to satisfy increasingly stringent CAFE standards.

While we can see how a more upscale Chrysler brand would be a great idea, we're having a hard time seeing how the Pentastar's namesake will catch up to Cadillac (or its competitors) any time soon. The resurgence of the Wreath and Crest has been seven years in the making, and even now the brand's success essentially rides on one product – the CTS. New models like the BMW 3 Series-fighting ATS and large and luxurious XTS promise to rebuild some of the momentum that Cadillac has recently lost, but even that remains to be seen. Chrysler, on the other hand, currently has nothing that can reasonably be said to compete with Cadillac, and judging from comments made by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, there isn't anything in the pipeline, either. It's good to dream, though, right?

[Source: Automotive News - subs req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      The upscale Chrysler brand is going to be small. Not more than a model or two.

      Why? Because they have combined dealerships now, except for pure FIAT branded foreign dealers. So they don't need an extensive set of chassis platforms to draw upon. In lots of ways they are much like the single platform Lexus LS400 or Hyundai Genesis starts. I could for see the big Chrysler sedan showing up in many Fiat upscale dealerships to serve as the missing "big Luxury Sedan".

      They have existing"halo" cars to fill out the luxury themes. For sports car image, the Ferrari does just fine. For 2+2 coupes there is Maserati and slightly down market the Alfa Romeo sporty coupes. For country club set off- roaders, for the horsey Polo-pony set, to compete with the Range Rover, they now have the new Grand Cherokee, with its Mercedes chassis and it looks to be a valid place card holder with its Jeep name.

      Cadillac tried with the Allante and XLR for a 'halo' sports car and hasn't succeeded there yet. Ferrari just oozes performance image and luxury.

      GM aficionados were talking about "proper RWD platform" and simultaneously advocating the cheapest Zeta platform for everything from a Chevy and El Camino trucklet, to an ultra Cadillac. Yet Zeta was developed for a mass market Chevy- Holden level car, not a MB. Lincoln sold its attempt in Jaguar.

      For myself, I would rather start with a proven and now updated Mercedes platform. That is much better chassis DNA company, than Rolls Royce or Bentley uses.

      The last thing that MB did with Chrysler was to update that platform for the Challenger and the Mercedes SUVS, the so-called LHX.. So it isn't even old anymore, nor the older mere, E Class chassis; which is far from being matched even yet by Lexus or Infiniti or Hyundai or a host of aspiring others.

      The last thing that MB did with Chrysler was to was to update that platform for the Grand Cherokee too, and the newly introduced Mercedes SUVs. So it isn't even old anymore, nor only the well-sorted out older E Class platform, either. It is much more than that.

      Apply the new ultra modern Phoenix V6 in "Eco-Boost" like form, with 'Multi-air' variable valve lift, throttle-less drive by wire, multi-valve continuously variable independent valve timing, in an OHC, all-alloy V6 power plant designed from the start with added cooling and beefy bottom end and large cylinder spacing for turbo-charging and the added combustion pressures of HCCI; and you have something to crow about.

      Ford is spending mega-millions to re-engineer its I4s and V6s for Eco-boost ;and the Phoenix V6 and the World engine also, have it from the start.

      There was no chintzing with the Phoenix engine as Daimler planned tot retire all the Mercedes v6s and replacwe with premium Phoenix V6s, adding the equivalent of Fiat's 'Multi-air' electro hydraulic mechanical valve lift to distinguish Mercedes from Chrysler v6s. Now Chrysler is explicitly getting the Multi-air technology, too.

      It doesn't require much to specify Brembo brakes and other supplier goodies, and you have a thoroughly modern competitor in the Luxury playroom. Match it to a with a truly premium transmission in the Fiat parts-bin, and suddenly the smirking stops. To transform the big Chrysler into a world leading big sedan all you need add is modern lightweight adaptive magnetorheological suspension, pioneered in Detroit and lots of TLC.

      Open your eyes. The truly hard and expensive bits are there already. Luxury interiors are but gilding the Statue. This would be equestrian has a thoroughbred's breeding to start with, in its Chassis
      • 5 Years Ago
      If Fiat and Chrysler really want that to happen, they could, its possible., Hyundai was a cheaper alternative to Toyota in 1980? and now they have semi-luxury cars.

      First up they should buy out the Kappa from GM like I said(Millions) of times before, its a good chassis and could be extended to almost BMW 3-Series size. So the Kappa would be the basis for an entry level Chrysler sedan(Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS and 3 Series competitor) of course Chrysler/Fiat have to fix up the Kappa(remove the Truck tranny for decent ones) and interior and make it work on their I4's and V6's. Top of the line SRT6 to have a Twin Turbo'd Pheonix.

      A Modified, Shortened LX would form the basis for the 200C Concept, with the V6 as a base and maybe an "Imperial" package to be the top of the line, with an aluminum 5.7 Hemi making 400+HP? and then the 6.4 for the SRT8? (Or supercharged 5.7) it would be the midsizer competing with the (CTS, GS, etc.)

      The 300C is the top of the line and should be offered only with 300+ HP engines, SRT8 to have the 500+ 6.4 Hemi. some kind of "Imperial" package to be the top of the line luxury. (The car would be competing with the XTS, LS, etc.) and also maybe with Coupe and Convertible versions?

      The Kappa platform should also form the basis for a Crossfire successor that would compete with the Z4, a Turbo'd Pheonix should be the top of the line SRT6 version.

      The T&C gets a bit more luxury, nothing major there. Also forming the basis for a new Pacifica. The Pacifica should be AWD only.

      And maybe a FWD Dodge-Based car to go with the ES?

      I also had some idea's with the Dodge lineup but if I post it the post would be too long.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, Chrysler's half way there. They've already been charging Caddy prices for the last few years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If that's where they want to go then fine, but it's gonna take a commitment of YEARS, not unlike what Hyundai has done, of ever improving products to get there. It can be done but it has to be consistent and across all models. You just can't come out with a new 300 (which by the way I heard it's going to be really good) and say you're there. The CTS is great, but one car does not a luxury maker make. Well maybe Lexus was the excpetion that proves the rule. The original LS 400 was all they had.

      Personally I would like them to be a premium, tech oriented brand, similar to Buick (premium and Acura (tech).
        • 5 Years Ago
        "If that's where they want to go then fine, but it's gonna take a commitment of YEARS, not unlike what Hyundai has done, of ever improving products to get there."

        Um, duh? I mean, they're not going to get there by doing nothing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honda would love to compete with Lamborghini, doesn't mean its gonna happen
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is the very good to american.

      I don't know sergio is a clever person or not.
      subsidiary become a upmarket brand than parent company.... this is rare case.

      And, I hope chrysler change their designers.
      Is 300c really good design? it is very boring.
      typical 1980s design. this time is not michael jackson period.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seems realistic to me. After all how long has Cadillac been as good as it is now? Not long.
      • 5 Years Ago

      • 5 Years Ago
      that Chrysler is hideous
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yea, Chrysler wanted Chrysler to compete with Cadillac!
      • 5 Years Ago
      For that, Chrysler needs to follow Hyundai's lead in development. Hyundai is almost there (in terms of its higher-priced products i.e. new Sonata, Azera, Genesis, Veracruz). Chrysler isn't even close to Chevrolet in terms of quality products.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And I want to date Leighton Meester. Although I'm 50, married, 25 lbs overweight, and not rich, I suspect I'll be squiring Ms. Meester around town long before Chrysler is competitive with Cadillac. And I'm not even a Cadillac fan.
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