Say what you like about Chrysler, but you can never accuse the company of cranking out boring, generic products.
This review was originally published in MOTOR’s March 2004 issue
Eight litres and a V10 speaks for itself in the case of the Viper. And the PT Cruiser and Prowler are just bare-arsed retros. And now we get the Crossfire – a car that blurs the retro line with its hot-rod meets high-tech looks and what are probably the most sophisticated underpinnings to grace the grimy side of a Chrysler to date.
There are some classic coupe touches in the long nose and short rear overhang and some contemporary Americana in the big, mouthy grille and bright badging and trim.
Inside, and we’re off to Europe with plenty of Mercedes-Benz thinking and styling in evidence in everything from the dash layout to the grain in the plastic trim. And while the Crossfire is very possibly the only Chrysler in the world that doesn’t have even a single cup-holder to its name, it’s equally true that the Germans appear to have taught the Seppos a thing or two about build quality and interior fit and finish.
But is the Crossfire’s Teutonic content merely the result of the Daimler-Chrysler merger a few years back? The reality is that the Crossfire is more or less a Benz SLK below the sills.
The engine, tranny (although there’s a manual option in the Crossfire we don’t get in the Benz roadster) and rear suspension are definitely SLK derivatives, and there’s plenty of speculation that the front suspension is ditto.
Classic MOTOR: 2005 AMG SLK55
You still get the nice initial ripple absorption that suggests a soft set-up, but things deteriorate a little as the bumps get bigger in amplitude and the Crossfire’s travel begins to get used up. It stays flat, though, and you get the feeling that it’s really only those low-profile, fat hoops that are making the thing feel like it’s hopping about a bit.
There’s just enough squat from the multi-link rear end to ensure that there’s always plenty of powerdown and the sensation that it’s really on your side. Similarly, the front end displays oodles of grip and it points superbly, with a slight deadness in the steering at the straight-ahead evaporating with lock to reveal truly faithful turn-in.
The driveline feels a bit rubbery, like there’s a bit of preload or something (or little in the way of flywheel), and the long-travel clutch has bugger all feel and is a bit difficult to modulate at first. But the gearshift is superb, with an oily, mechanical feel and short, sharp throws that are dolt-proof.
The V6 measures Benz’s current 3.2 litres and it’s good for 160kW at 5700rpm (redline is at 6000) and a meatier-than-it-sounds 310Nm at 3000rpm. Despite the relatively tall sixth gear (2200rpm equals 100km/h), the torque sends you blatting forward even up slight grades in top and there’s better than average throttle response.
It’s an entertaining gadget and, at $69,990, represents a fat drive and a big pile of style for the quids.
Blast through memory lane with classic MOTOR
2004 Chrysler Crossfire
Engine: 3.2-litre SOHC 18-valve V6