Chrysler Drums Up Nassau, Trailhawk

January 8, 2007

Could these two Detroit auto show concept vehicles hint at the shape of things to come from theU.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG? There’s little doubt that they’ll have at least some influence if they gain a good reception from the media and show-goers, company officials suggested.

The Chrysler Nassau was conceived as a compact, urban luxury car, explained the automaker’s design director, Trevor Creed. The four-door, four-passenger Nassau’s shape resembles the classic British shooting brake, the U.K.-born stylist suggested, but its “fluid and sophisticated shape” is designed for the city rather than country leisure. Nose on, the Nassau features a revised version of the Chrysler brand’s classic, egg crate grille, here in polished and satin aluminum. Two, full-length glass skylights illuminate the well-appointed cabin.


The Nassau features an array of high-tech hardware, including what Creed described as a “seamless interface between your car and the rest of the world.” That includes Bluetooth and navigation systems, and individual video screens and speakers mounted into the back of the front seat headrests. Up to four occupants each get their own bucket seats.


The concept is powered by a 425-horsepower, 6.1-liter version of Chrysler’s HEMI V-8, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. To plant that power, the Nassau concept uses a version of the high-performance SRT suspension, and it rides atop ten-spoke, 22-inch wheels.


2007 Jeep Trailhawk concept

2007 Jeep Trailhawk concept

The Jeep Trailhawk looks like “what happens when you leave the Wranger and Grand Cherokee alone for too long,” Creed jibed. The overall footprint is roughly that of the Grand Cherokee, though the chopped roof is three inches lower than that SUV. It also features a Targa-style top with a pair of removable panels. The low brows over the headlight, suggested Chrysler’s design boss, “give the Trailhawk the look of a bird of prey.”


Sitting atop 34-inch tires, the concept ute is powered by a 3.0-liter BlueTec diesel V-6, borrowed from Chrysler’s German sibling, Mercedes-Benz. It makes a stump-pulling 376 lb-ft of torque.


The Trailhawk, notably, is based on an extended version of the Wrangler body-on-frame platform, rather than Grand Cherokee’s unibody architecture. Could that have some use in the future? There’s little doubt, said designer Ralph Gilles, that there could be some benefits to building both models off the same platform – though there are no plans in place to do so, he quickly emphasized. But “we’ll be looking at the reaction at the show.”


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