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Chrysler Crossfire Roadster

Broadcast dates : 13th June 2004
17th June 2004

The rather brash styling of the Chrysler Crossfire Roadster becomes easier on the eye with familiarity.

In fact in Roadster form the lines of the Crossfire are quite harmonious compared to those of its closed coupe stablemate, which has a rather hunchback appearance.

This is nevertheless an in-your-face car, and there is nothing very subtle about the roadster.

However, there is more balance to the fabric-roofed Crossfire Roadster, and this is true whether the top is down or up.

The effect of the rear wheels being larger than the fronts makes the tail-up Crossfire attitude less pronounced and while the Roadster is never going to have a nippy appearance, it looks less like a retro hotrod in convertible form.

Winding tight mountain passes are not really the Crossfire's forte, as it has a rather softly-sprung ride. Nevertheless it is yet another new sports car with good build integrity, with none of the dreaded scuttle shake spoiling the fun.

In fact fast cruising will be this car's strong suite, and to this end its V6, 3,2-litre engine, a Mercedes motor beneath its Chrysler plastic shroud, does a good job.

The engine develops 160 kW, the same as it does in the Mercedes-Benz C320, and provides zero to one hundred in a claimed 6,5 seconds and a top speed of 242 km/h, this once again being a manufacturer’s claimed figure.

Cruising is also when it sounds best, as the engine has a wonderfully fruity exhaust note. However, there is plenty of wind noise in the car, both with the top down or up, wind insulation not being this hood's best feature.

The wheel sizings are 18-inch diameter alloys at the front and 19 inches at the rear. In fact the wheels at either end look a little too large for the overall proportions of the car.

But detail styling work is pleasant and this includes the retro-look rear with its 1950s style tonnaue with faired trailing edges, leading away from the prominent twin roll-over bars.

The rear spoiler, which rises up automatically at speeds over 100 km/h, is another rather brash styling exercise, although Chrysler does feel it adds extra downforce.

To fold the top away takes some 22 seconds and again the process is not as slick as one might suspect. A rather hefty tug at a roof-mounted lever is needed to set the whole gig in motion, the rest of the action carried out by levers and electric motors.

The interior is a mixture of rather pleasing extroversion, regarding the seat detailing and upholstery choices, and the kitsch. The centre console is finished in a rather cheap-looking silver finish which almost looks like a home-brew attempt.

The interior could also do with some extra cockpit length, as tall drivers find they cannot move the seats far back enough for a comfortable driving position.

Nevertheless, despite its compromises in certain areas, the Chrysler Crossfire Roadster will no doubt win a number of fans when it arrives in South Africa, possibly as early as July.

Many people see it as a fun-filled very affordable version of a Mercedes-Benz sports car and in essence that is what is, albeit with, or perhaps because of, its American-cousin party clothes.

Prices are not yet confirmed, but should be about 10 per cent more than the Crossfire Coupe, which currently sells for four hundred and fifteen thousand rand in six-speed manual form and an additional ten thousand rand for the automatic version.

The Roadster will be available in both manual and automatic versions.

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