Chrysler Concorde emerges in curvy new form as elegant sedan
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
FREDERICKSBURG, Tex. -- Steer a prototype edition of the world's slickest family sedan into a Texas town where Main Street facades preserved in clapboard and limestone seem like a scene out of the Old West and heads will turn and fingers will point to the stunning shape and sensuous beauty of such a futuristic design.
Concorde by Chrysler, in new format of smoothly sculptured lines with blunted prow and curvy cues borrowed from some vintage Ferrari, looks unique on a crowded street.
It is, without question, the most handsome revision for the car class of 1998.
Predecessor for Concorde was itself revolutionary in 1993 as one of a trio of new models drawn from Chrysler's so-called LH platform. That scheme created the interior space of a large-size sedan from a chassis of mid-size proportions by stretching windshield forward to firewall and increasing length and width of the cabin while squeezing the space left over for a front-mounted engine.
Engineers labeled this procedure a cab-forward design, and it ultimately translated to more room for riders.
The original Concorde also behaved with unusual agility because its sophisticated frame was both structurally strong and torsionally rigid. Wheels were posted at outside limits of the rectangular plan and, when coupled to independent suspension components, resulted in agile handling characteristics and an unusually smooth ride quality.
For the next generational expression of Concorde, designers preserved the progressive cab-forward concepts of the original sedan, but beefed up the structure, cast two new V6 high-tech engine options to motivate it, then dressed the package in that dramatic new shell which caused such a stir during recent driving tests in Texas.
Concorde's bold front treatment features an abbreviated prow with articulated oval headlamps and bulging low hood followed by a massive expanse of canted glass.
The windshield initiates a graceful arching profile which extends over sensuously shaped doors to merge C pillars in a swoop to the curved tail underscored by corner brake lamps.
Daring and dramatic, Concorde's design is not what you might expect for a car pitched at the full-size sedan crowd, and, as that Texas tour revealed, it doesn't drive like a typical family sedan, either.
Instead, Concorde's aggressive performance corresponds to its bold and stylish packaging.
Consider this car a delight to drive.
It surges with power, thanks to responsive new engines, acts assertively when navigating through crowded urban streets, and dances around a curvy route.
At the same time, Concorde sets up a luxurious interior environment in a theme of understated elegance that's quiet, comfortable, even pleasurable.
Concorde comes together at Chrysler's Canadian assembly plant in Bramalea, Ontario, which also constructs the new Dodge Intrepid with shared platform, engines and components.
All aspects of design and production for Concorde trace to development in cyberspace through advanced supercomputer technology. Virtual images for all parts were made rapidly and then tested via computer models for optimum strength, integration and manufacturability before commitment to production.
Beginning with the existing framework of Concorde, computer testing identified various skeletal weaknesses, which then were reinforced at key flex points. The resultant new body structure improves rigidity by significant margins of 20 percent in bending stiffness and 37 percent for resistance to twisting.
New independent suspension components attach to this stiffer platform at the four wheels to induce more responsive handling traits.
Also, Concorde hosts innovations for production techniques and materials used to build strength, save weight and reduce noise and vibrations: A magnesium steering wheel structure and aluminum hood pare weight, as new single-unit components like stamped doors shave labor costs and improve quality and fit, and foam injected into body cavities isolates noise by sealing the passenger compartment.
The new engines developed for Concorde represent important progress for Chrysler. Compared against Concorde's original engines, these plants increase power by 25 percent yet also improve fuel efficiency by 10 percent and cut hydrocarbon emissions by 30 percent.
And they deliver a solid kick when you punch the pedal.
Concorde LX stocks a 2.7-liter V6 with aluminum block, dual overhead cams and multi-valve technology. Output amounts to 200 horsepower.
Concorde LXi contains a single-cam 3.2-liter V6 which operates on regular-grade fuel. It jumps to 225 hp.
Both engines use Chrysler's new electronically-controlled automatic 4-speed transmission that scores as a significant improvement over previous shifters. It's more quiet and efficient when running through gears, and not in the least intrusive.
Concorde's interior extends the graceful exterior theme of gentle curves and contrasting sharp creases in a new arrangement which feels spacious and airy, due to the cab-forward architecture.
Standard layout for both Concorde models includes two front buckets separated by a floor-mounted console and a rear contoured bench with fold-down armrest concealing a pass-through hatch to the trunk. A front bench divided into equal sections may be substituted for front buckets.
Expansion of interior dimensions over the previous Concorde results in even more room for passengers, particularly in the rear seat with a 2.5-inch increase in legroom. A full-frame adult can sit with legs crossed and still not bump a foot against the front seat.
The new cockpit employs soft-touch urethane in a dashboard design with seamless passenger-side airbag and center-mount climate and audio controls, plus a new instrument panel with analog gauges including tachometer. Various dials were reset for better access by driver and the console's height adjusted so the top armrest matches the level of an armrest on driver's door.
Variations between LX and LXi extend beyond powertrains to leather upholstery and an overhead console for LXi, plus upgraded audio equipment, larger wheels and tires, a security alarm and anti-lock brakes.
1998 CHRYSLER CONCORDE
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 1998 CHRYSLER CONCORDE Specs
||Full-size luxury sedan
| Model Options:
||Full-size luxury sedan
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||DOHC 2.7-L V6
SOHC 3.2-L V6
||2.7: Power 4-disc
3.2: Power 4-disc/ABS
| Gas Mileage:
||2.7: 21/30 mpg
3.2: 19/28 mpg
||$ 22,000 to $ 27,000