After a number of 'teases' Chrysler has finally revealed the interior and exterior of the facelifted 300 series through the release of a series of photographs, the revised in all areas E-segment sedan, which is set to be rebadged as a Lancia in time for the Geneva Motor Show on March 1.

After a number of ‘teases’, Chrysler has finally revealed in detail the interior and exterior of the new 300 series through the release of a series of photographs. For Italian car fans, the news of note is that the E-segment sedan is set to be rebadged as a Lancia in time for the Geneva Motor Show on March 1.

Most obviously on the outside, the restyled 300 gets new front and rear clips in an effort to update the design theme. This includes the new Chrysler ‘family’ grille pattern which features seven sharply-sculptured, chrome-effect horizontal blades. Based on the next-generation Ypsilon teaser images released by Lancia last week, the Italian-badged version of the 300, possibly to revive the ‘Thema’ nameplate, could retain this feature as cost-saving is taken to new heights. The headlights are scalloped and there are contrasting chrome-effect strips underneath, while LED daytime running lights complete the frontal upgrade. At the rear, meanwhile, the makeover includes new tail lights, chrome trims and dual oval exhaust exits incorporated into the bumper.

The facelifted model’s windscreen has been angled back three inches and the door pillars narrowed to improve visibility by 15 per cent, while a double-pane panoramic sunroof also features. Inside, the car Chrysler has junked the outgoing model's interior, widely acknowledged as one of the worst cabins to be seen in Europe in recent years, and the designers have made strenuous efforts to improve the quality and ambience including greater use of soft-touch materials. As the new set of images have been carefully photoshopped, it is difficult to form a real conclusion, but, while the cabin is quite proficient by lower-grade U.S. standards, it would appear to fall short of the levels of quality in many areas that would be expected of an E-segment Lancia. Some detailing components, such as the dashboard clock and chrome-effect trims, appear to be of very low quality, even from these touched-up images. However, the instrument cluster appears to be carefully backlit, reflecting Lancia’s attention to detail in this aspect in recent years.

In the U.S. the new 300 will get under the bonnet the new 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, as well as the carryover 5.7-litre V8 (although, in yet another curious marketing move, the well-known ‘HEMI’ tag is set to be dropped from Chrysler models). For European markets, however, it was last week revealed by Automotive News Europe that the 300 is set to be fitted with VM Motori’s 3.0 V6 turbodiesel, which Lancia expects to account for around 80 per cent of the model's sales, with the Pentastar comprising the remainder. The VM unit – which will also go in the European version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee – will replace the 3.0 V6 Mercedes-Benz unit that was used in the outgoing 300 on European markets. Using the VM Motori engine will be quite a big gamble for Lancia to take on a model that already arrives with dubious ‘badge engineering’ credentials.

The VM 630 has now been around for six years, but has struggled hard to find any OEM willing to use it. Originally, under the now disbanded GM-Fiat joint venture, GM planned to fit a 2.9-litre version in selected European market Cadillac and Saab models, while Alfa Romeo proposed to use it in the D-segment 159 sedan. However, both manufacturers rejected the engine as not being of a sufficient standard, in particular suffering from a lack of refinement. Since its launch at the Bologna Motor Show in 2004, around 20 kg has been shaved off the engine’s weight, the engine updated to Euro V emissions specification, and other detail improvements made. Recently, the Tupy foundry of Brazil, the world’s leading CGI producer, was handed a production contract by VM Motori for the cylinder block and bedplate, and production commenced in the summer. Following pre-machining of the cylinder blocks and bedplates at Tupy, final machining and engine assembly is performed in a purpose-built manufacturing facility at VM Motori in Cento, Italy. According to VM, the engine is capable of 240 horsepower (59 kW/litre) and 550 Nm of torque.

Another problem for the Lancia-badged 300 will be the lack of the ‘Touring’ estate version, which is being discontinued, despite previously accounting for around half of all 300 sales in Europe. If Lancia’s ‘luxury’ positioning is to be adhered to, the new car will have to be pitched up against the BMW 5-Series amongst others, and it is very hard to imagine it finding any market segment room. On top of this comes the American look and feel of the 300 which will be a turn off to European consumers. The 300's distinctive styling, which helped to cement its initial, albeit short lived, showroom success, appears quite dated now, and in smoothing out and refining its looks for the facelift, the designers have eradicated the key appeal of the original model. According to Automotive News Europe, however, Lancia is predicting sales of 10,000-15,000 units a year of the rebadged 300 in Europe. This would appear to be a hugely optimistic target, especially as the model it replaces, the Thesis, managed to sell less than 20,000 units over a production run that spanned from 2002 to 2009. Despite the lack of sales, however, the Mike Robinson-designed Thesis, which evolved from the ground-breaking Diagolos concept car project, was a well-thought-out, luxurious executive car that, importantly, was developed with Lancia DNA.

To be built at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Canada (alongside its platform sister, the Dodge Charger), the new 300 will debut at next month’s Detroit Auto Show and arrive in the North American showrooms during the first quarter of 2011. The Lancia version will debut in Geneva alongside the brand-new Ypsilon and a second rebadged Chrysler model, the Town & Country minivan.

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