Car reviews - Chrysler - Crossfire - SRT-6 range
Looks, smooth and effortless power, crisp handling courtesy of ultra-firm suspension (coupe)
Room for improvement
Cramped cabin, modest luggage space with the Roadster roof down, recirculating ball power steering
21 Jun 2005
Okay, we've workshopped the criticisms levelled against the original Crossfire, among them that it was a hand-me-down donor car in the form of the original Mercedes-Benz SLK.
Well, it is likely some critics will call the Crossfire SRT-6 a hand-me-down from the previous-generation C32 AMG Benz. All we can say is that we should all be so lucky with such lavish cast-offs.
Chrysler has managed to imbue with SRT with enough street cred to make it stand out alone, and separate, from its lineage.
It is also a halo car for company struggling to build brand awareness with a lineup that - at the moment - includes just two vehicles, the commodious Chrysler Voyager and lamentably retro PT Cruiser.
Those Chrysler folk, including dealers, are hangin' out for the arrival of the 300C and other new Chrysler product and the SRT-6 provides a pointer to what's around the corner.
Thankfully, Chrysler has not messed with the Crossfire's edgy looks too much, only to add a fixed spoiler, deeper front spoiler and stylish new alloys.
The same central ridgeline that runs the entire length of the exterior is there, while the deeply sculpted wedge shape starts up front and meets to form a bobtail rear-end look.
The SRT does use the same suspension and structure as the standard car but borrows the AMG 3.2-litre supercharged V6, albeit slightly down on power and torque than the original.
The supercharged V6 manages to endear itself to you over time through the effortless surge of power, mountains of available torque from quite low in the rev range and manner in which it reacts to driver inputs. It will hold gears when required and will rocket to the 6000rpm redline with ease.
The supercharger does dull to rorty exhaust tone of the standard Crossfire but the mechanical thrashing of the unit is a welcome addition reminder of what's under the bonnet.
Chrysler's own SRT engineers have revised the suspension, beefed up the brakes and reduced understeer in an effort to deliver a car that not only looks the part, but drives the part as well.
The engineers have also managed to give the Coupe and Roadster distinct dynamic characteristics.
The Coupe is unashamedly firmer. It rides hard, almost too hard in some conditions, but the benefit is pin-sharp handling and steering.
By comparison the Roadster, because of its perhaps more boulevard-like application, is slightly softer sprung and more at ease in every day driving conditions.
The Coupe is definitely the car to pick for those smooth blacktop windy mountain roads where the immense torque of the supercharged V6 allows you to surge out of corners. However, on some indifferent rural roads around Bathurst it was almost too firmly damped for comfort.
By contrast if you want suppleness the Roadster allows a bet each way. It will charge up and down mountains with the same alacrity of the Coupe, courtesy of that supercharged V6, but is slightly softer sprung. Slightly softer tyre compounds also help here with overall ride quality.
In reality it comes down to preferences - Coupe for the press-on serious driver and Roadster for those folk who want to look good but do not have the outright expectations of an enthusiast.
Inside both feature the same SRT trimmings, superbly bolstered leather and suede seats, five-speed automatics and a host of other create comforts, including dual zone climate control and dual front and side airbags to complement Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Program and anti-lock brakes.
They also share the same Z-rated high performance Michelin Pilot tyres (225/40 ZR 18-inch front P255/35 ZR 19-inch rear) ventilated disc brakes (330mm x 32mm front 300 x 22mm rear) with dual piston callipers.
The SRT-6 may well be like a slightly used cashmere jumper but you can't go past quality to make a statement. It looks and feels good - even if it is a hand-me-down.
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