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Car reviews - Chrysler - Crossfire - SRT-6 range

Launch Story

Chrysler logo21 Jun 2005

By MARTON PETTENDY

MOVE over AMG, FPV and HSV, there is another three-letter high-performance acronym about to join your ranks.

SRT, or Street and Racing Technology, may not be widely known in Australia but Chrysler is hell bent on changing all that with the launch of the supercharged Crossfire SRT-6, expected to be the first of a range of high-performance cars for the American brand.

With the SRT-6 carrying a $16,000 premium over the standard Crossfire, Chrysler Jeep Australia managing director Gerry Jenkins said he anticipated it would find just 50 buyers a year, most opting for the eye-catching $91,990 Roadster version. The Coupe will sell for $85,990.

Chrysler is clearly hoping the edgy two-seater will give its conservative brand image a shot in the arm even if it means borrowing some Mercedes AMG heavy artillery in the form of the supercharged V6.

The engine will be familiar to those who remember the Mercedes-Benz AMG C32 3.2-litre V6 and, considering the Crossfire uses the previous-generation SLK architecture, it is a logical fit.

Much more than resting their laurels on a re-badged AMG, SRT engineers have made extensive revisions to the powertrain as well as the vehicle's ride and handling.

The V6 remains a hand-built item, courtesy of AMG, with more than enough power and torque - 246kW and 420Nm - versus the C32's 260kW and 460Nm.

Adding the supercharger boosts power by 53 per cent and liberates 30 per cent more torque than the standard Crossfire, with 90 per cent of the torque available between 2300rpm and 6200rpm. The engine also features a helical supercharger and water-to-air intercooler.

Not surprisingly, the SRT-6 is quick. It has a zero to 100km/h time of about five seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. To help cope with the extra power and torque, the Crossfire's five-speed automatic has been upgraded, but the trademark centre dual exhausts remain.

To further complete the performance package, both the Coupe and Roadster gain beefier brakes, revised spring rates, re-tuned damping, recalibrated ABS and re-tuned ESP programming.

The SRT division sought to deliver a stiffer, sportier ride with more neutral handling at the limit and less understeer than the standard car.

The suspension continues with double wishbones up front and an independent five-link arrangement at the rear.

Mr Jenkins was adamant the SRT-6 had the looks, power and packaging to be a serious rival to the Audi TT 3.2, BMW Z4 3.0 and Porsche Boxster 3.2S.

"With performance comparable to the established models like the Boxster S, yet at a significantly lower price, the SRT-6 is an exciting proposition," he said.

Visually, the SRT-6 gains several exterior tweaks to differentiate it from the standard Coupe and Roadster. Gone is the integrated rear spoiler, replaced by a fixed rear spoiler, while a deeper front spoiler contributes to better downforce at speed.

Lightweight 15-spoke SRT alloys (18-inch at the front and 19-inch at the rear) and a range of bespoked exterior colours are further points of difference.

Inside there are hip-hugging sports seats, nappa leather with suede inserts and 'SRT-6' embroidering, and an optimistic 320km/h calibrated speedo.

Standard equipment runs to electric roof removal (convertible), powered and heated driver's seat, electric windows, a premium CD stereo, dual-zone climate control, remote central locking, dual front and side airbags and an alarm.

The Crossfire SRT-6 is the first SRT-badged Chrysler Group vehicle to be introduced to markets outside North America.

Chrysler Jeep Australia national sales manager, Brad Fitzsimmons, said the SRT would add a lot to the brand image as a "sports tourer". Its aggressive pricing against what Chrysler perceives as its rivals would also help sales, he said.

Meantime, Mr Jenkins said Chrysler and Jeep sales were on target this year to reach 6900 vehicles, but would gain a big lift in the second half with the launch of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300C sedan.

Even with the modest sales projections, Mr Jenkins is confident overall Crossfire sales will hit 200 this year.

The Crossfire SRT-6 is expected to be the first of several new hot Chryslers earmarked for local release. In the United States, SRT has developed 10 vehicles, including the Dodge Charger SRT8, Dodge Viper SRT10, Chrysler 300C SRT8 and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

"At this stage we haven't confirmed any other SRT vehicles for Australia," Mr Jenkins said. "But we'll be pushing hard to get the SRT-8 versions of both the Chrysler 300C and new Jeep Grand Cherokee."

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