Jeep Trailhawk and Chrysler Nassau: Contrasting Concepts
Compared to past years’ hijinks, the unveiling for Chrysler’s new concept cars was relatively restrained―no smashed windows, no elaborate dance routines. But there was a magnificent performance by an African-inspired drum band, who even managed to get a few of the less ill-tempered journalists to put down their pens and join in.
The connection? Well, apparently drumming is one of the most visceral expressions of creativity, and, said Trevor Creed, senior vice president of design at Chrysler Group, “each of our new concepts has its own unique rhythm.”
Trailhawk is claimed to have the “essence of Wrangler," with the sophistication of Grand Cherokee. Built on the Wrangler platform, it shares that model’s ground clearances and robust body-on-frame construction technique allowing it to offer similar go-anywhere off-road performance. But with a taller and more luxurious four-door body, it also has elements of the slightly more grown-up look and feel of Wrangler’s larger sibling.
The Trailhawk's name derives from the cropped headlights, which give the car a “hawkish” face. The combination of short front overhang and long hood give a sense of forward motion and power. Removable roof panels ape the Wrangler’s open-air style, though a plush (and fairly realistic looking) interior offers more space and a higher comfort level.
Very different is the Chrysler Nassau. Described as a performance coupe, it’s based on the 300C but looks much smaller thanks to its lower stance and much shorter front and rear overhangs.
Nassau was inspired by the classic English “shooting brake." Shooting brakes were popular with wealthier car buyers in decades past: Basically they were luxury coupes whose luggage areas were extended, wagon-style, to accommodate guns or other outdoor recreational equipment. That compromise between sport-ute flexibility and coupe appearance, performance and economy is exactly what Chrysler’s designers are seeking.
Nassau’s coupe-like tail is actually a hatchback, and has some elements of Crossfire in its recessed boat-tail, wraparound tailgate. At the front there’s a new version of the trademark Chrysler grille and handsomely detailed wing-shaped front light clusters―LED, of course.
Under the long hood is a 425 horsepower 6.1-liter HEMI V8 driving a five-speed automatic transmission. The engine and suspension have been tuned by Chrysler’s SRT racing and sport division.
Inside the Nassau is a classy, leather-clad cabin that in many respects looks ready for production. Possible exceptions include panel-mounted buttons that take the place of a conventional shifter, four-way joystick controls that front and rear passengers can use to select various functions. A number of controls are designed in the style of today’s cell phone and MP3 player interfaces with close-set consistent buttons.
Twin “picture view” skylights run the length of the passenger cabin flooding light into the car.
These two attractive vehicles, with the potential to appeal to very different customer groups, both look intriguing close to becoming realistic series production proposals.