No estate version for new Chrysler 300C

* Estate models are poor sellers in US * Saloon will be launched with 188bhp and 236bhp diesels * Car could get eight-speed auto later...

No estate version for new Chrysler 300C

Chrysler's new boss has ruled out an estate version of the latest 300C.

The new version of the 300C which has been developed in an unusually rapid 18 months at a cost of around 650m will arrive in UK showrooms next March.

The UK version will be branded as a Chrysler, but the car will then go on sale across the rest of Europe as the relaunched Lancia Thema.

However, despite the strength of estate sales in Europe, Chrysler/Lancia CEO Saad Chehab told What Car?: 'We will not be launching an estate version of this generation of 300C. We have to stack up the potential sales of the car against development costs, and estate sales in the US are really slow, so it doesn't make sense.'

The 300C will be launched in the UK with a choice of two V6 diesel engines, with 188bhp and 236bhp. These will be equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission but Chrysler's version of the ZF eight-speed automatic (a gearbox also used by Jaguar) will be available with diesel cars soon after.

'It's in production now,' said Mr Chehab, 'but it has to work its way through to the diesels [US-market petrol V6s already have the gearbox]. It's been a case of whether we wanted to get this car to market now or wait a further six months.'

Mr Chehab also said that a four-wheel-drive version of the 300C is 'ready to go now' - but Chrysler UK sources say that no decision has been taken on whether to offer the car to British buyers.

Chrysler is pitching the 300C as 'Audi A8 size for Audi A6 money'. No prices have been confirmed for the UK, but sources say it's likely to start at just over 35,000.

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