dates : 3rd October 2004
7th October 2004
Chrysler Crossfire is one of those cars that's simply
transformed by a rag-top execution.
Interestingly quirky in steel-roofed coupe form, all the
elements of the Crossfire come together in the rag-top
or Roadster version.
And those elements add up to fun, fun, fun, as the Beach
Boys would have put it.
With its Up-Town Gotham looks softened by the removal of
the hunchback steel roof, the Roadster adds an air of
Ď50s romance to its overall appearance.
Those faired in roll-over hoops on the convertible
tonneau are shades of Carrera Pan-Americana, harking
back to the great Mexican Road Race of the 1950s.
There cars like four-and-a-half-litre Ferraris did
battle with Mercedes-Benz SLRs and giant modified
American behemoths like Mercurys and Cadillacs.
In its profile too, the Crossfire Convertible somehow
evokes a bit of Ferrari America, albeit with a dab of
And those bonnet style channels further confuse the
issue as to heritage, although on the whole this
up-front car simply had to be a Detroit native.
Strengthening the body for a topless attitude added just
36 kg to the overall package, which is impressive by
convertible standards. Contrary to popular belief,
convertibles are often much heavier than their sedan
counterparts, due to the steel reinforcement need to
provide a rigid body structure when the roof is lowered.
The roof on the Crossfire is quite rudimentary, needing
a rather effort-filled tug on a central lever to effect
the lowering or securing process before the electric
motors take over.
But the top does have an electrically-heated glass rear
window, handy for those winter months.
The rigidity of the body is impressive on uneven roads,
with barely any sign of scuttle shake or body-flex.
The ride is not super-stiff, the car being profiled more
as a fast fun-filled cruiser than a razor-sharp
this respect it works perfectly well with the 160 kW
Mercedes-Benz-sourced V6 engine, and the five-speed
automatic transmission on our test vehicle.
Claimed performance is a 242 km/h top speed and a zero
to 100 in about six and a half seconds.
Itís available with a six-speed manual gearbox too,
but as a fun-filled cruiser with more than a respectable
turn of speed, the auto-box would be our choice.
rear-wheel-drive layout works well, and the Crossfire is
equipped with all the latest electronic driver aids, so
the experience is fluid and fast rather than
The cabin of our test car was decked out in a funky trim
mix that brought out the alligator in David. On any
other car it would have been The King of Kitsch, but on
the Crossfire, well, it all seems to hang together
The centre console has a bit of a low-level finish, and
another criticism is that the short wheelbase doesnít
provide enough leg and arm room for tall drivers.
Comfort-wise it has power windows, heated seats, and an
Infinity Modulus six-speaker sound system with
sub-woofers based on a home-surround sound system.
There are other flashy items, like the speed-sensitive
aerofoil that deploys automatically at 100 km/h,
although you can raise it up manually at any speed.
The rear wheels are larger, being 19-inches in diameter
as opposed to the 18-inch wheels at the front, and this
adds to the hot-rodding extroversion of the car.
In a South African context this very American approach
to a sports car seems anachronistic when compared to the
likes of a BMW Z4 or a Mercedes SLK. And yet somehow itís
so refreshing, and so well-built apart from items like
the cheap-looking centre console, that itís a relevant
player in our premium-priced sports car market.
Priced at R465 000 itís not cheap. Itís up against
serious competition from the likes of Nissanís 350Z at
around R80 000 less, although the Nissan is not
available as a convertible at present.
Yet unlike the Nissan, which is a serious sports
machine, the Chrysler Crossfire doesnít pretend to be
an out-and-out driverís car. And in a convertible that
seems to make a lot of sense.
Car Torque is