Posted By RichC on May 14, 2006
Chrysler is ‘diesel-izing’ the hot selling 300 for the European markets while North America waits … 2008 maybe … who knows? Nevertheless, those of us wanting a few more US diesel options are speculating what cars besides the Mercedes Benz 300E CDI will be ready for the US market. Joseph White reporting for the Wall Street Journal, had an opportunity to test drive the new Chrysler 300c last week; his impression was positive.
The Chrysler 300c is getting an all-aluminum turbocharged V-6 CRD engine. The new engine is smaller and lighter than the previous I-5 European diesels and is a 3.0 liters for displacement that produces 207 horsepower and a whopping 376 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm. The common rail diesel uses high-pressure injection, variable geometry fins on the turbocharger, four-valve heads, and dual overhead cams — the result is more power while burning less fuel, sending fewer pollutants out the exhaust. The diesel version of the 300Cs will be using same five-speed automatic used in the Chrysler Hemi. According to the EPA published numbers, the V-6 gasoline version is rated at 22 mpg and in Mr. White’s test drive the new diesel logged 28 mpg on a combination highway and city test drive.
According to Mr. White, the new diesel Chrysler 300 “is quiet, except for a pleasant rumble that makes it sound like an old-school V-8.” He continued with a positive comment regarding the low end torque of the diesel and it ablity to “lope along at 1800 rpms” on the freeway. The downside, unlike the new Mercedes BlueTec diesel, is that the Chrysler does not comply with the US clean-air rules. White quotes Mr. Klegon, the Chrysler product -development chief who says, “We know how to meet them [CARB standards], but at some cost.” That costs is estimated at around $5000 – 6000 per vehicle which is probably not realistic for consumers or for Chrysler.
There is some hope, since Mercedes already has their system ready to go call “Adblue” technology. It is being used successfully on commercial vehicles successfully in Europe, and is planning to adapt a number of their models. Volkswagen is also stubbling to get there clean diesel technology ready for the US too. According to recent reports, the 2007 Volkswagen line up in the US will be without diesels and that dealers will be doing their best to stock up on 2006 TDIs. With fuel prices at an all time high and consumers shopping for more fuel efficient vehicles this news is coming at a bad time. Currently Volkswagen has a very limited model lineup of diesel, yet 20% of their April 2006 sales were diesels, compared to 14% last year. Hopefully 2008 will bring improvements, as according to VW spokesperson Steve Keyes, Volkswagen will be offering new diesels that meet emission standards in all fifty US states in it vehicles, “including a new model — a diesel Rabbit.”