Chrysler, Road Test Reviews

2005 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 Coupe – Road Test

2005 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 Coupe - www.Road-test.org

The Crossfire is quite a rarity in my neck of the woods, and as such it get’s more than the average attention with people pointing and staring as you drive by. Everyone loves the look of this car. In a week of driving it I didn’t hear one negative comment, just ooh’s and aah’s from people of all ages. The “Aero Blue Pearl Coat” paint didn’t hurt either.

First Impressions
Getting into the Crossfire for the first time, you kind of free-fall into the seat. It sits very low to the ground. I adjusted the height of the seat and it helped with entry and exit, but it’s still a big drop to the seat. Getting out is a little difficult too because of the car sitting so low, but let’s face it, that’s not an issue if you want a sports car is it?

Once behind the wheel, you notice the seats are very firm and solid. While there are power adjustments (8-way driver/4-way passenger), there isn’t much to adjust, except for the driver’s seat height and back tilt, and unfortunately the passenger seat is not height adjustable, so you feel like you’re sitting on the floor. Despite the fact that there is no lumbar support adjustment, the seats are surprisingly comfortable. If driving for extended periods adjustable lumbar would be a needed feature, but overall during my day to day driving, it wasn’t a necessity. The seats are covered with “Nappa Pearl Leather with Alcantra suede inserts” and come in slate grey regardless of the exterior color chosen. The seating material does a great job of holding you in place, and are heated for those brave enough to drive this car on winter roads.

The steering telescopes, but doesn’t tilt, which I find odd – it‘s usually the other way around, with manufacturers omitting telescoping steering. You notice that the gauges and steering are very upright as you sit taking in the unique look and contemplate the fact that the speedometer is marked all the way to 200 mph [320 kms/hr] – overly optimistic in my opinion, considering the top speed for the Crossfire is listed as 158 mph [255 kms/hr]. The centre stack housing, dual-zone temperature control and stereo system are clad with a shiny silver finish and everything is placed easily within reach. Overall the appearance is very pleasing and tastefully executed – perfectly suited to the luxurious look of this vehicle.

Gripping the steering wheel, it’s nice and thick, very comfortable. However, I was disappointed by the lack of audio/climate controls on the steering wheel – surprising in this day and age when even some of the cheapest cars now come with this as an option. Another anomaly that I found was the positioning of the signal and cruise control stalks. The turn signal/wiper stalk is located in the 8 o’clock position, and the cruise control stalk in the 10 o’clock position. A rather strange configuration, and I feel perhaps this hasn’t been thought through very well. While driving on the highway I “signaled” and stepped on the gas at the same time to change lanes. To my surprise when I took my foot off the gas, the car continued picking up speed! It seems I hadn’t signaled, but rather, set the cruise control to the speed at which I’d stomped on the gas!! I had to hammer on the brakes before I drove through the guy in front of me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the cruise control being on a stalk instead of buttons on the steering wheel – it’s actually very easy to use, and I like it – it’s simply the placement of it. If the cruise control and turn signal were in the opposite locations I believe this potentially dangerous situation could be resolved. However, to be fair, I didn’t confuse the stalks for the rest of the week, so it was a one-off problem for me.

As for the curiously low placement of the signal/wiper stalk, my wife explained it to me – and showed me – that you have to “drive like a man” … left foot flat on the floor with your knee bent, using it as an arm rest … then the stalk is perfectly placed and only a slight finger reach from your relaxed driving position. Although I don’t drive like that, once she demonstrated it, I fully understood, because yes,a lot of men do drive like that.

The steering is quite sharp – but definitely not go-kart like and I‘d put that down to the fact it‘s recalculating and not rack and pinion. The hand-built, 18-valve 3.2 litre supercharged V-6 engine makes a nice growl and is very responsive. The engine delivers a relatively flat torque curve, delivering 90% of its peak torque from 2,300 to 6,200 rpm. A couple of times I got the tail end to step out before the traction control kicked in. You have to be very careful in the rain not to give it too much welly without holding onto the steering wheel with both hands. The 5-speed Auto/Stick transmission is perfectly matched to the engine and the up-shifts and down-shifts were seamless. If you wanted to shift the gears yourself it was just a matter of tapping the shifter to the left to downshift and then to the right to up shift. I like the fact that you don’t have to physically put the transmission into a selectable “Sport” area of the gate – it’s ready to use at all times. Additionally, there is a button beside the shifter that allows you to chose between winter and standard shifts.

Chrysler points out that the suspensions of the coupe and roadster are tuned to each car’s unique characteristics and not a one-size-fits-all approach. The SRT is engineered to be a stiffer, sportier performance ride compared to the other Crossfire, and as such its suspension is quite firm, sending most of the bumps and road imperfections through to the occupants. It’s firm without being teeth shattering, but your bum feels the bumps which could be a combination of the stiff suspension and the run-flat type tires – there’s no spare and/or the short 94.5 inch wheelbase. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the suspension set up – it’s perfect for this car – just don’t think you’ll be driving a purebred racing car and you’ll be fine. For 99% of the population the power/suspension combination is probably perfect – as long as you don’t live in an area where the roads are lacking proper maintenance and are full of potholes. With 225/40ZR18’s front and 255/35ZR19’s in back – you’ll be replacing the rims on a regular basis – along with your fillings.

From a performance standpoint, Chrysler has certainly taken an aim at Porsche as the benchmark for the Crossfire SRT-6 to reach. With a 0-100-0 mph beating the Boxster S, and 0-60 times within a whisker of the 911 Carerra (automatic/Tiptronic) – the SRT-6 is available at a much lower price.

The 240-watt “Infinity Modulus” sound system is probably the best factory system I’ve heard so far. It’s got TONS of bass – there are 6 speakers with a separate amp and dual sub-woofers. The highs are nice and clear through the 6 speakers, while the bass vibrates through your body if you set the bass to maximum. There are no speakers in the rear, so all of the sound is compact and surrounding. While the stereo itself is quite simple, one very annoying trait I found was that the station identification is always there spelled out in words, I couldn’t find a way to keep the numbers showing for more than a split-second. This quirk made it very difficult to program my favorite stations – I go by the numbers, not the names. Another disappointment was the single-disc CD that is offered – there’s no optional 6-disc unit available and there’s no indication that it’s MP3 capable.

Surprisingly for a car of its size, the trunk area is quite spacious – very large and accommodating at 7.6 cu/ft. Since the Crossfire has a hatchback as opposed to a regular trunk, there’s considerably more space than you’d expect when looking at this sports car. Behind the seats are handy coat hooks, along with the suspension strut that stretches across the width of the car. Unfortunately the strut stops the seats from reclining or even moving very far back. On that note, I’d be surprised if anyone over 5’10” would be able to drive this car comfortably and safely. I let a friend of mine (6-foot plus), drive the car around the block and he had a problem getting in and sitting comfortably behind the wheel. From the passenger seat it looked like he was a contortionist. I’m 5’7” and with the seat set for my comfort, there was only about 2” from the seat back to the suspension strut – that doesn’t leave much room to move the seat back.

I found the keyless entry in the Crossfire to have mixed-blessings. While it’s nice and compact with the key pivoting out of the way, into the fob, the buttons are very hard to read and I always had to check and double-check that I was pushing the right button to lock and unlock the car. Simply color coding things would resolve the problem. Additionally, it’s disappointing that there’s no indication that you’ve locked the car, other than the lights flashing – a quiet beep would be a welcome addition.

The “cup holder” – yes only one – is a complete joke. It pops out of the centre console between the driver/passenger. I put a can of Coke in it – it was a battle and I needed both hands to make it happen, and it completely destroyed the can in the process – fortunately it wasn’t full! Pulling it out was more difficult than getting a penny from a Scotsman! Then once you’ve had a sip you have to arm wrestling it back into place again … another two-handed ordeal. Take hot drinks in this car at your peril! Oddly enough, you get two cup holders in the Roadster, but only one in the coupe.

Standard features in the Crossfire are: 240-watt, 4 speaker stereo, dual-zone temperature control, ABS, Stability Control, Traction Control and Brake Assist, driver/passenger one-touch down power windows, central locking, active spoiler, premium security alarm, Sentry Antitheft system, speed control, and a touring suspension. The Crossfire Limited models add: 6 Infinity speakers with subwoofers, fog lamps, heated seats, power leather seats, heated/fold away mirrors, tire pressure display and universal garage door opener. Among other things the SRT-6 adds: a fixed rear wing, side air bags, curtain air bags and a tire monitoring display.

The 2006 Chrysler Crossfire line up is nice and simple…. one engine – 3.2L V-6 with either a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an available 5-spd automatic for $1,075 [$1,500 Cdn]

The base model is the Coupe which is priced at $30,070 [$39,995 Cdn] (the U.S. gets a base Roadster priced at $35,110) available with a 6-speed manual only, and you can have it in any color you want … as long as it’s black! Next up is the Coupe Limited at $34,920 [$48,050 Cdn] with the automatic transmission optional. And finally, the Roadster Limited is priced at $39,220 [$51,900 Cdn], again the only option is the Auto/Stick.

Stepping up to the SRT-6 Coupe and Roadster gives you the supercharged 330 hp engine/5-spd Auto/Stick and other items unique to the SRT-6. The Roadster is $50,395 [$66,630]. One, no-charge option is available – 3-season tires (Michelin Pilot) instead of all-season tires (Continental).

Safety
On the safety side, the Crossfire SRT-6 comes with air bags, seat-mounted side impact air bags, side door (curtain) airbags, Traction Control, ABS with Emergency Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, premium alarm system, tire pressure monitoring system/display, Sentry key theft deterrent and engine immobilizer system.

Warranty
Bumper to Bumper Warranty for 36 months /36,000 miles.
Towing capacity: Not recommended.

The Verdict
I loved every minute I spent with the Crossfire SRT-6. It’s powerful and responsive just when you need it. It’s stunning to look at and it’s got a great ass. It’s very comfortable with a phenomenal stereo system, it has a great trunk for the size of the car, plus it takes 2-seconds to wash … because it’s so small. If you’re lonely and have no friends – buy a Crossfire – you won’t be lonesome for long! On the negative side, the driver and passenger share the map light – 2 lights but only one switch – that’s annoying – blinding the driver while the passenger looks at the map isn‘t good safety sense. Also, there’s no dead-pedal and the sun visors are small, and that’s ok – but tiny make-up mirrors without lights seems unacceptable in a car of this calibre (they could easily have been much bigger) – your woman has got to look good, when you‘re seen in this car!!

Pricing for the 2006 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 Coupe
As tested: $46,095 [$62,780 Cdn]

Fuel Consumption: [Premium – 91 Octane]
The 3.2L V-6 and the Supercharged V-6 are rated at 17 mpg City [13.7 L/100 kms] and 25 mpg Highway [9.0 L/100 kms]
I averaged 20.2 mpg [12.0 L/100km] combined

+ PLUSES:
Looks to die for
Goes like stink with a perfectly matched engine/transmission
Excellent fit and finish with a gorgeous paint color
Fantastic stereo system
Unique and rare – there won’t be a whole lot of these running around

– MINUSES:
How…..How much does it cost??!!!!
Dumb and completely useless cup holder
Single CD stereo system

Would I Spend My Money On It?:
Yes and No. Are the Supercharged engine and other SRT goodies worth $20,395 [$22,781 Cdn]? Personally I’d have to say no. I’d buy the base model (getting the manual transmission) and buy a new “winter-beater” with the change. Unfortunately I’d lose out on the beautiful color of this test car and would have to settle for black!

Immediate Competition:
Mercedes Benz SLK, Honda S2000, BMW Z4, Chevy Corvette, Nissan 350Z, Porsche Boxster

By The Numbers…
Horsepower: 330 @ 6100
Torque: 310 @ 3500
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
Max Speed: 158 mph [255 km/h]

Interior
10 – Quality
8 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
6 – Special Features (Sat Nav/Heated Seats/ Sunroof, etc)

Ergonomics
7 – Ease of Entry/Exit
8 – Front Roominess
10* – Rear Roominess
8 – Driving Position/Controls

Exterior
10 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish

Performance
10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
9 – Ride & Handling

Ownership Value
7 – Bang for the $$
8 – Fuel Economy

131 Total / 150
*There is no rear seat, so it gets 10 points to keep all the scores based on 150.


Copyright © 2006 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland / Gail Shankland

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Also Published at: PaddockTalk

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