In the car-a-minute culture of the 21st century, it is rare to find one that gives pause.
Automakers will race a car into production, through the get-to-know-yous and onto the laps of a public that scarcely understand what it is or why it's something they should buy. Five years later - or maybe three - the car is gone in a maelstrom of marketing, replaced by a vehicle that looks nothing like its predecessor yet has the same name.And so it goes. Nowadays, it is rare to find a vehicle that deserves the honor of even a die-cast salute, which is quite probably why makers of die-cast statuettes continue to make their livings in the 50s and 60s.
There just aren't that many current model cars out there worth preserving, even as a 1/16th model scale.
Except maybe the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire. With its Mercedes' guts and Bugatti-inspired American design, the Crossfire looks nothing like what it is: a compromise car between two very different automotive companies, a merging of sorts between two cultures.
Page 2: Moving Looks
Turns out that strakes count for something. So does the funny little spoiler tail that activates at 65 mph - on the Crossfire, it's part of its charm, and there are few roadsters with a more spirited design. Call it sporty sophistication. The Crossfire doesn't look too young, as many grown-up roadsters tend to look. The Crossfire, if anything, looks too expensive. With a price tag around the same as the Z roadster, the Crossfire looks more sophisticated, more expensive, and yes - older. There's a little gray around the temples, a little salt n pepper in the hair.
Page 3: Trims
The standard Crossfire Roadster ($34,085) comes with the six-speed manual, while the Roadster Limited comes with manual ($38,045) or automatic ($39,120). The Crossfire SRT-6 coupe ($44,820) and SRT-6 Roadster ($49,120) have the automatic as standard. The look more or less stays the same no matter how much you spend, except for the roadster top and the large wing on the SRT. The Crossfire's rear view has a tapered, boat tail appearance. With the retractable spoiler out, the look is sharp, but the spoiler does carve into visibility a little - a small distraction, especially when it activates itself and you can see it deploy out of the corner of your eye, via the rear view mirror. Small potatoes when you consider the value of the rear design. The spoiler is the perfect compliment to a back that finishes the Crossfire statement, which starts with the long, flat hood with strakes and a grille that frames the Chrysler wingspan nicely. The chrome-tipped dual exhaust pipes add a touch of power to the back.
Page 4: Sprint & Cruise
There is more than just look to the action, too - though the Crossfire (SRT excluded) is more built for the sprint-and-cruise than serious ride and handling. The engine is the sublime 3.2 liter 18-valve V-6 of the previous SLK - a nice engine with more than enough power for a light car that's a bit over 3000 lbs. There are other Mercedes parts under the skin, too, such as the multi-link suspension and steering - and they really define the character of the Crossfire. The ride is fun and firm, though the steering could do with a little more feel of the road - but like the SLK, it provides the driver with a precise ride that manages the road perhaps a tad too much - no crazy fish tailin' in this little roadster. of course, the SRT version is another story, and one better told on its own. Click here for more about the Crossfire SRT. Just know that horsepower ratings change from 215 to 330 for the SRT version - more than enough horses to fill your barn.
Page 5: Shake Loose
But then the roadster is too nice to shake loose. It's for fast cruising, sunny days and prom queen waves. The biggest troubles with the Chrysler Crossfire Roadster actually revolve around the interior and the top. The sequence of putting the top up or down is a bit confusing and you do need a little elbow grease. To operate, release and pull down the center-mounted handle located on the windshield header, turn the handle, which releases the convertible fabric top and lowers the side glass, and lift the front of the top approximately eight inches.Press the button on the center console and the hard tonneau opens up, the soft fabric top folds in, and the hard tonneau closes again.
Page 6: Slot & Snick
It's rated at 17/25 - but given the type of car it is - a fun roadster or coupe that you will love to drive - you can probably expect mpg at around 15/25.
What did you like most about the Crossfire?
As shallow as it sounds, I liked the way it made me feel when I drove down the road. It's is a real head turner - mark up another win for Chrysler design - and its performance is solid. The engine is especially nice.
What did you like least about the Crossfire?
The noise made by the power top, cabin entry, and the utter lack of utility space.
Which version would you buy?
I would purchase a manual roadster limited - loved the shifter, and the roofline seems higher on the roadster than the coupe.