Chrysler showed off its new 300C Touring at the Paris Motor Show this week.

Due to arrive in European dealerships in the last quarter of 2004, the 300C is based on the 300C Sedan, itself based on the last-generation Mercedes E-Class.

Like the rear-wheel-drive Sedan, the Chrysler 300C Touring will be available in Europe with a choice of three petrol engines (2.7-litre V6, 3.5-litre V6 and 5.7-litre HEMI V8).  Diesels may come later.

A permanent all-wheel drive (AWD) option will also be available on the 3.5-litre and 5.7-litre HEMI engines.

Thomas Hausch, Executive Director of International Sales and Marketing, Chrysler Group, said: “The 300C family provides a unique proposition to European buyers by delivering expressive Chrysler design and power, coupled with exceptional cargo volumes, thoughtful features like our unique access rear liftgate, premium appointments and state-of-the-art technology.”

The body of the Chrysler 300C Touring shares much of the forward structure of the Sedan, but has unique rear side panels, roof and rear liftgate. The steel liftgate is shaped like an inverted “L,” and the hinges are set back over the load area so that the liftgate rises almost vertically and does not require the operator to step back from the vehicle, and also allows greater access to the rear cargo area.

The liftgate, fitted with a two-speed wiper and wash system and can be unlocked using the button on the key fob.

The rear seats of the Chrysler 300C Touring offer near identical head, leg and shoulder room to the Sedan, but the cargo area is 25 per cent larger when the rear seats are up. With the rear seats occupied, the Chrysler 300C Touring’s load area holds 630 litres (22.2 cu. ft.) of cargo, compared with the Sedan’s 504 litres (17.8 cu. ft.). With the rear seats folded, capacity is increased to 1,602 litres (56.6 cu. ft.) – more than Audi A6 Avant and Saab 9-5 Estate.

The load area features a removable, rollaway tonneau cover, large storage bins in each side panel, four cargo tie-down loops and a 12-volt power outlet. The load floor has a removable tri-fold panel that can be partially or fully folded, or completely removed. When used, small items can be stored below this floor panel. When removed, the maximum available load height is increased by 102 mm (4.0 in.). An optional cargo-management system is available, which stores below the tri-fold panel. It includes a waterproof liner and folding divider with cargo retaining nets.

Additional cargo can be carried on the optional roof bars that come with two cross bars. Roof bar load capacity is 68 kg (150 lbs.).

All-wheel-drive (AWD) equipped Tourings have their suspension is raised by 25 mm (1 in.) to add ground clearance beneath the AWD drivetrain, and a unique floorpan is used to accommodate the centrally mounted Magna-Steyr transfer case. The AWD system drives all wheels at all times and has a rearward torque bias, delivering 62 per cent of torque to the rear wheels and 38 per cent to the front.

At the front, AWD Touring vehicles have different spindles and different lower A-arms to accommodate the drive shafts for the additional front-wheel drive. At the rear, the five-link suspension is retained, but all models (AWD and RWD) are fitted with standard self-levelling “Nivomat” rear shock absorbers. The self-levelling operation is silent and fully automatic.

The Chrysler 300C Touring will be sold as a left-hand-drive vehicle, launched initially in more than 25 countries around the world.