Chrysler, Road Test Reviews, Vehicles

2007 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster Limited – Road Test

www.road-test.org

Even though the Crossfire has been around for several years, it’s still very much a rarity in the wine region of southern Ontario. I could probably count on one hand the number of Crossfire’s I’ve seen in our neck of the woods. As for the Roadster – I think I’ve only seen one over the past year or so. Understandably then, you get more than a few passing glances while cruising around in the Crossfire.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Crossfire, this car is built in Germany on the last-generation Mercedes SLK platform. The volume of production is so low that when I drove the coupe last year (July 2006), it was actually a 2005 model year. Chrysler skipped production for the 2006 model year and went straight to 2007 for this years’ vehicles, although according to the website they were selling 2006 Roadsters in the U.S. as of July 2007. So if you’re looking for a low-volume car that could be worth a lot of money in the future -look to the Chrysler Crossfire. Another thing to note -the SRT version of this vehicle is no longer available.

NOTE: Chrysler has just announced that the Crossfire is being discontinued. Now would be a great time to pick one up before they disappear forever.

First Impressions
Once behind the wheel, you notice the seats sit very low and 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 seat height and back tilt. Despite the fact that there is no lumbar support adjustment, the seats are surprisingly comfortable. For an entire week, I can honestly say there wasn’t one occasion that I felt even a little discomfort. The test vehicle was equipped with the optional ($250) 2-tone, very light-beige leather seats. It certainly helped to keep the interior bright when the blacktop was up, but there’s no doubt it will show dirt and scuffs quite easily.

The steering is quite responsive and perfectly weighted (my wife thought it was a bit too heavy in parking lot maneuvers) and gives plenty of feedback to the driver. I was surprised by the lack of audio controls on the steering wheel -very surprising in this day and age when even some of the cheapest cars come with this as standard equipment. Other anomalies were the turn signal/wiper stalk which is located in the 8 o’clock position, and the cruise control stalk in the 10 o’clock position. A rather strange configuration, but not unique among Chrysler products. The steering telescopes, but does not tilt, which I find odd as it’s usually the other way around.

The driver-adaptive 5-speed Auto/Stick transmission allows clutchless manual or fully automatic operation, is quiet and almost seamlessly shifts through the gears. To shift the gears manually it’s just a matter of tapping the shifter to the left to downshift and then to the right to upshift. 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 choose between winter and standard shifts. During hill climbs, I only used the manual shift about 50% of the time, because both transmission and engine work in perfect harmony in the automatic mode by giving just the right amount of power at the right time. There’s no hesitation or a feeling that the Crossfire is underpowered or heavy at any time.

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 Roadster does a commendable job of isolating the occupants from most of the bumps and road imperfections while maintaining a very sporty feel with very little cowl shake and flex. The very low profile tires (225/40ZR18’s front and 255/35ZR19’s in back) are run-flats, which probably contributes to the firmer ride. If you like a firmer riding car -a sports car – the Crossfire is for you, if you prefer the floaty-feeling of a Cadillac then you should look elsewhere.

Off the line, there’s a tiny bit of hesitation and then speed builds quickly and effortlessly. The Crossfire doesn’t feel like a heavy car which shows in the 0 -60 times and in overtaking maneuvers on two-lane highways. Punch the go pedal and hang on as you blast past traffic with ease. Just like the coupe, the rear wing rises at speeds above 62 mph and retracts again at 39 mph. It’s a very comfortable car to drive serenely, but when you’re feeling a little feisty you have all the power you need with the shift points coming at the 6,500 rpm redline. Personally, I found myself driving at the speed limit most of the time -just enjoying the drive, however, when I did get the urge to have a bit of fun, the Crossfire was more than up to the challenge of putting a huge smile on my face as illegal speeds were reached in the blink of an eye.

The gauges and steering wheel are very upright as you sit taking in the unique look of the instrument panel and dials. The automatic climate control is user-friendly and offers individual temperature controls for the driver and passenger, as well as two-stage seat heaters. The centre stack is very close to the occupants and houses dual-zone climate controls and the stereo system which includes a very unique Navigation/Audio system. Although it’s based on a CD instead of the more popular and prevalent DVD, it works surprisingly well considering there is no LCD screen -it’s in the stereo unit! Another surprise is that it actually found our house and directed us there. Impressive since approximately 85% of the SatNav systems tested cannot find our address out in the country.

The sound system is “Just Average” until you crank it up -then it comes alive. The 240-watt “Infinity Modulus” sound system uses 6 speakers with a separate amp and dual sub-woofers immediately behind the occupants. While other systems have more bass where you can actually feel it, this system is more geared for quality listening because it only really comes to the fore once the top is down and the volume cranked up. The unit is single-disc CD (there are no optional 6-disc units available) and there’s no indication that it’s MP3/WMA capable. One big downside to the system is that you can’t play a CD while using the SatNav because it only has a single CD slot.

With the top up, the Crossfire Roadster is very quiet when compared to the Honda S2000 or Mazda MX-5, but not in the same league as the Sebring convertible, which is outstanding. Even at speeds of 50 -60 mph, it is quiet enough to hold a conversation without yelling at the passenger or wishing you’d brought some Tylenol with you.

Dropping the top is effortless -you just rotate the large handle and push the roof up a little, hold down the power roof button for about 30 seconds and you’re topless. Returning the top to its upright position is just as effortless. Once the top is down however, the hard contoured tonneau cover finishes the look perfectly.

The trunk is very small as you’d expect just by looking at the Crossfire. According to the Owner’s manual it’s 6.5 cu/ft. with the top up and 3.6 cu/ft with it down. The trunk can be expanded from 3.6 cu/ft to the maximum by moving a partition that has to be in place for when the roof is dropped. One thing is for sure though – you have to pack very light if you want to go away for a weekend break and drive with the top down. I did manage to squeeze a 50 lb back of Chinchilla food into the trunk -that was easy enough, but getting it back out turned into an ordeal! The trunk is quite deep, but shallow so a couple of small backpacks fits without a problem but that’s about it. Behind the seats are a couple of safety net type storage areas – if it was my car I’d probably put the owner’s manual there since the glove box is too small to be of any use with the manual taking up virtually the entire area. There is one decent-sized storage area under the centre armrest that will keep CD’s, etc from flying around the cabin. The “cup holder” – yes only one – is a complete joke. It pops out of the centre console between the driver/passenger and barely holds a bottle/can in place. It’s a two-handed affair to get anything into and out of it if you don’t want to spill, and I’d certainly never use it for hot drinks.

Because the bulkhead is so close to the occupants, I’d be surprised if anyone over 5’10” would be able to drive this car comfortably and safely. I’m 5’7” and with the seat set for my comfort, there was only about 2” from the seatback to the maximum allowed seat travel -that doesn’t leave much room for anyone much taller than me.

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.

On the safety side, the Crossfire Roadster comes with Side Air Bags, 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.

The 2007 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster line up is nice and simple – one engine, a 3.2L V-6 engine, with a 5-speed AutoStick transmission (a 6-speed manual transmission is available in the base model only). Standard features include: dual-zone climate 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, 6 Infinity speakers, fog lamps, heated seats, power leather seats, tire pressure display and universal garage door opener.

For more details and options go to: http://www.Chrysler.com or http://www.Chrysler.ca

The Conclusion
I loved every minute I spent with the Crossfire Roadster. It’s responsive and fun to drive -top up or down. It’s stunning to look at and it’s completely different from all other cars out there. And get this … it’s even family-friendly! The passenger airbag can be switched off to allow installation of a child seat or pet restraint in this two-seater – Perfectly sound reasoning when you’re trying to sell the idea of a two-seater to your wife.

Warranty:
Bumper To Bumper and powertrain warranty for 3 years/36,000-miles. In Canada it’s 3 years/60,000 kms Bumper To Bumper, plus a 5-year/100,000 kms powertrain. Roadside assistance is also included for 3 years 60,000 miles [100,000 kms].

Pricing for the 2007 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster [Limited]
As tested: $41,220 [$55,300 Cdn]
Base price: $39,470 [$51,900 Cdn]
Destination & Delivery: $925 U.S. / $1,400 Canada

Fuel Consumption: [Fuel: Premium 91 Octane]
The 3.2 Litre V-6 is rated at 21 mpg [11.2 L/100 kms] City and 30 mpg [7.8 L/100 kms] Highway
I averaged 23.5 mpg [10.0 L/100km] in combined driving, and 24.5 mpg [9.6 L/100 kms] during 100% highway driving.

+ PLUSES: 
Looks to die for
Doesn’t blend in with all the other boring cars out there
Perfectly matched engine/transmission
Unique and rare – there isn’t and won’t be a whole lot of these running around
Great fuel mileage

– MINUSES:
Dumb and completely useless cup holder
Can’t listen to a CD and use the SatNav at the same time

Would I Spend My Money On It?
Absolutely

Immediate Competition:
Audi TT Roadster, BMW Z4, Chevy Corvette, Ford Mustang GT500, Honda S2000, Lotus Elise, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Nissan 350Z, Porsche Boxster

By The Numbers:
Powertrain: 3.2 Litre 18-valve, V-6; 5-speed AutoStick transmission; RWD
Horsepower: 215 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque: 229 @ 3,000 rpm
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
Max Speed: 150 mph [242 km/h]

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

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

Exterior
10 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish

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

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

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

www.road-test.org


Copyright © 2007 by Iain Shankland
Text & Images: Iain Shankland

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Also Published at: PaddockTalk