1 Jun 2007
THE first mid-sized Chrysler sedan in Australia since the chart-busting first-generation Sigma of 1977 to 1980 hit the streets from June 2007, packed with value.
Called the Sebring, it is an American-made, three-box, four-door, five-seater sedan designed to tackle the mid-to-top spec versions of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Subaru Liberty, among others.
To that end, even the base Sebring Touring includes automatic transmission, ESP stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and traction control, six airbags, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control air-conditioning and tyre-pressure monitors.
The second-tier Sebring Limited model adds niceties such as a sunroof, six-stack Boston acoustic audio/DVD player, headlight washers and 18-inch alloys, for $3500 extra.
From about August, the Sebring’s fraternal Dodge twin, the Avenger sedan, should slot in from under $30,000, to battle the base-model Camry and co.
This strategy of putting the Dodge as the price leader while placing the Chrysler as the premium product is how Chrysler Group Australia will position what are essentially the same vehicles in different ends of the same (D) segment.
Driving the front wheels initially is the 2360cc 2.4-litre twin-cam four-cylinder ‘World Engine’ familiar to owners of the Dodge Caliber R/T, Jeep Compass, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Hyundai Sonata, as well as the upcoming Mitsubishi Lancer and Jeep Patriot.
Enhanced with variable valve timing, the Sebring’s engine outputs are 125kW of power at 6000rpm and 220Nm of torque at 4500rpm.
The only gearbox available for now is a four-speed automatic with a Tiptronic-style sequential shift action Chrysler calls ‘AutoStick.’ No manual version is expected.
In January 2008, Chrysler swelled the ranks of four-seater convertibles with the Sebring Cabrio.
As the American company’s answer to the Volkswagen Eos, Holden Astra TwinTop, Renault Megane CC, Peugeot 307 CC and Ford Focus coupe convertible, as well as the Saab 9-3 Convertible, the Sebring Cabrio offers the choice of a fabric or a folding metal roof, depending on price.
Like the Eos, the front-wheel drive Sebring is a mix of small and medium-class car, offering palpably more interior space than most of the other chop-tops.
With the ability to carry two golf bags when the roof is retracted, cargo capacity is rated at 356 litres roof-up and 193 litres with it folded into the boot.
Chrysler uprated the Sebring body considerably, incorporating ultra high-strength steel in the cross-car beam for greater impact resistance.
Powering both Cabrios is Chrysler’s first V6/six-speed automatic gearbox combination for Australia.
Also made available at the same time in the Sebring sedan as an option, it is a 2.7-litre double overhead-cam 24-valve petrol unit delivering 137kW of power at 5500rpm and 256Nm of torque at 4000rpm.
Saddled with a hefty 1745kg (hardtop: 1785kg) of beefed-up body and chassis, the V6 sprints to 100km/h in 10.3 seconds, on its way to a 206km/h top speed.
Standard features include ESP stability control, four-wheel disc brakes, anti-lock brakes with Hydraulic Brake Assist and traction control, dual front airbags, front-seat mounted curtain airbags, a tyre pressure monitor, a powered driver’s seat, cruise control, an alarm, climate control air-conditioning, an odour and stain-resistant cloth trim Chrysler calls YES Essentials and 17-inch alloy wheels.