Another of those vehicles that are denied us ordinary mortals
in this country, is the Chrysler Crossfire. This is one of the progeny of the
Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler marriage, and although the marriage is probably a
little shaky right now, the kid seems to be very strong. Our Down-Under
correspondent John Weinthal has just spent a few days with the auto version of
the Crossfire and describes it as a stunning looker, yet purposeful and
practical. Here are the Words from Weinthal.
Chrysler Crossfire is no easy car to review. This is a car which has to be seen
in the metal, for full appreciation. In my eyes it is one of the most
intriguingly detailed, and ultimately attractive cars around. I could have
enthused, no matter how it drove or rode, or even how it was put together. Every
time I looked I wanted to take another photo. Somehow it all comes together for
me from every angle, even from above.
“Enough of that; you will make up your own minds on its
looks and not everyone will agree. This is a truly fascinating concoction of a
car, quite beyond its styling.
its Yankee name and California design studio origins it is made in Germany by
coachbuilder Karmann. It is powered by the same 3.2 litre V6 engine as the
little Mercedes Benz SLK and it uses the Merc’s five-speed automatic
transmission or six speed manual.
“The SLK scores by having a folding steel roof - and that
big silver star! However, I have always seen the Merc as somehow missing out in
the styling stakes and the Chrysler has the advantage of being quite a handy
baggage hauler with its big lift up tailgate. But the best reason for running
from the SLK to the Crossfire is the Merc’s AUD 112,000 price ticket over the
AUD 70,000 Chrysler.
the Merc nor the Chrysler are balls out sports cars, but both will take the
challenge when commanded. The Chrysler is not in quite the same mould as the
similarly priced (in Australia) 176 kW Alfa Romeo GTV Coupe or the 205 kW Nissan
350Z. Like the Nissan, it is a strict two seater whereas the Alfa and Mazda’s
less expensive Car of the Year RX-8 can carry four at a pinch.
“In pictures the Crossfire contrives to look much larger
than it is. I love its on road size. Small external dimensions can be a big
advantage especially in a sporting car, for rapid progress over challenging
twisty roads or even for parking.
“The Crossfire sports an American-retro chrome bar grille.
And it has wonderful seven spoke Panzer style alloy wheels - 18 inchers on the
front and 19’s on the rear with rubber band like 40 profile tyres.
“The Chrysler proved to be purposeful and practical in many
ways. It is a car one could easily live with day in and day out, then enjoy some
fun on the right roads when the mood takes you.
“For me, roads and mood came together over some hilly,
chunky dirt in coastal northern New South Wales. Here the Crossfire came into
its own. Even the ride was fine, as it proved to be through our week on all but
the roughest bitumen. Hustling over the twisty dirt - without getting too
adventurous - the electronic traction control, ABS brakes and brake distribution
gadgetry worked overtime. Only the occasional flash of the fascia lights made
one aware of how much was going on to counter any excess exuberance on the
“Around town the Chrysler was as user friendly as one could
wish. On the highway the story was the same until, after about 90 minutes, I
learnt the hard way that the seat bases were none too friendly to my barely
padded butt. The only other glitch was the rather tinny sound of the wide doors
closing; most unGermanic!
“I was also unimpressed by the loss of some valuable rear
vision when the automatic rear spoiler rises at well under our speed limit. But
if it works this is a small penalty. At least it does not spoil the car’s
looks when it is stationary like the quick fix Audi had to add to the TT Coupe
to stop it flying off Autobahns.
“Overall this was a much better car than I had anticipated.
It is well equipped, easy to live with at all times and as head-turning as
anything on our roads. Not bad for AUD 70,000.”
(Thank you John, unfortunately we receive neither the Crossfire, nor the V6
version of the SLK. However, there is always the ‘grey market’! Dr. Iain.)