DETROIT – Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda is cautious about the production prospects of the Chrysler Imperial concept.

Punctuating his remarks with nervous chuckles, LaSorda describes the ostentatious sedan in terms of a design exercise.

“This is really, truly, a concept (chuckle) vehicle,” he tells reporters before the Imperial's debut here at the North American International Auto Show. “It's probably the highest-end car we would ever (chuckle)…that one might be a little bit of a stretch. But we'll see what the reaction is.”

Dripping with elegance reminiscent of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Imperial is based on the same platform that supports the Chrysler 300. But it stands 6 ins. (15 cm) taller than the 300, in addition to being 17 ins. (43 cm) longer with a 123-in. (312-cm) wheelbase.

“The Imperial's exterior artfully blends a stately nobility, hand craftsmanship, and modern dynamic sculpture and proportion,” says Mike Nicholas, principal exterior designer.

Chrysler Imperial concept

Passengers also sit nearly 7 ins. (18 cm) higher in a richly appointed interior framed by doors that are hinged at the A and C pillars and open to 90-degree angles. The interior also features leather, suede and California burl wood with metallic-like accents - all in warm tones of brown and “buttery Birch Creme.”

LaSorda denies the Imperial signals a shift in Chrysler's brand positioning.

“We're staying kind of where we are,” he says. “Premium is where we are. Our sister division Mercedes does an outstanding job in luxury.”

But the CEO does not totally dismiss the importance of the concept.

“It's all about design and execution,” LaSorda says. “It just goes to show you (the capability of) our people and our design team.

“Sometimes, it's just about trying to prove what we can do. And I'm game for that. I think that's a good company approach, to let our designers have the freedom to explore.”

emayne@primediabusiness.com