Somehow it all adds up to a sham, though the car performs beautifully, because ultimately the Crossfire SRT-6 is a marketing ploy, a quick-and-dirty way for Chrysler to get into the high-buck luxury-sport game with a distinguished, German-made, American-designed two-seater that’s based on hardware nearly a decade old. The Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 Roadster is a glamorous driveway decoration, a car for showing and telling, not driving. Which makes its reality as a terrific-handling back road burner quite ironic.
Nuts and Bolts
This is the good stuff, the best part about the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 Roadster. Under that overdone bodywork, behind those glittery multi-spoked wheels, there’s a Mercedes-Benz AMG just waiting to go for a romp.
A hand-built, 3.2-liter, supercharged V6 engine makes 330 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. of torque between 3,500 and 4,800 rpm, with ninety percent of that peak twist available between 2,300 and 6,200 rpm. Chrysler says that translates to acceleration to 60 mph in about five seconds. A performance-tuned exhaust breathing via dual, center-mounted, chrome-dipped tips expels spent gases.
Available only with an automatic, the Crossfire SRT-6’s five-speed transmission includes AutoStick, which allows for manual gear selection, and adaptive software that learns the driver’s style and adjusts the shift points accordingly. Power flows to massive 19-inch rear wheels wearing 255/35 Z-rated Michelin Pilot Sport tires. Up front, 225/40 rubber rolls on 18-inch wheels, guided by a power recirculating ball steering rack. Continental Touring Contact all-season performance tires are optional on the Crossfire SRT-6 for a slight benefit in both ride quality and foul-weather traction.
Four-wheel, ventilated-disc brakes with twin-piston calipers, ABS and brake assist haul the Crossfire to a stop, while a four-wheel-independent suspension keeps the tires glued to the road. The double-wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension includes front and rear stabilizer bars, and on the Crossfire SRT-6, receives significantly increased spring rates, stiffer gas-charged shock absorbers, and a recalibrated stability/traction control system that allows for a wider performance envelope.
One thing about the Chrysler Crossfire is certain: It’s got style. And though the SRT-6 version is the stronger performer, on the outside it actually looks weaker due to highlighted side strakes and bright-finish multi-spoke wheels that reek of Mary Kay Edition livery. Some might also find the grooved hood, huge rear lettering spelling out C-R-O-S-S-F-I-R-E, and giant eggcrate grille capped by Chrysler’s classic winged badge and book-ended by projector beam headlights to be rather extreme, and I wouldn’t disagree.
In addition to the brightwork added to the SRT-6’s sides and wheels, this performance model also gets a fixed rear wing and a front chin spoiler. The roadster’s power-operated fabric top includes a glass rear window and defogger, and is covered by a hard shell when stowed in its well for open-air motoring. It takes 24 seconds to drop the top and windows, and 31 seconds to button things up. Color choices for the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 are limited to Aero Blue, Graphite, Sapphire Silver, and Black.
Inside, the Crossfire looks and smells like a Mercedes-Benz, with typically austere Germanic design dressed up with glitzy silver plastic trim that underscores the puzzle-like appearance of the dashboard. Rough pebbled texturing for the dash and door panels, rubberized knobs for the stereo, decent quality plastics, and soft leather coat the cabin. SRT-6 models get a 200-mph speedometer, more supportive seats with bigger side bolsters and “SRT-6” embroidery, Nappa Pearl leather upholstery with Alcantara inserts and bolsters, and gray stitching on the seats and steering wheel. Safety equipment includes next-generation dual front airbags and side-impact airbags mounted in the doors. Short rollbars are located just behind each front seat headrest, but they don’t look as though they would protect tall people much.
Exceeding expectations in terms of performance, the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 generates huge power and torque delivered in a smooth and linear fashion, managed by an adaptive automatic that does a fantastic job of choosing the right gear at the right time. Effortless speed is on tap throughout the engine’s rev range, and though a manual transmission is not available, neither is it missed.
Braking is also improved over the standard Crossfire, resolving to some degree the lack of pedal feel and response that characterizes the base models. Likewise, the SRT-6’s steering does a much better job over the Crossfire, pathing perfectly without needing mid-course corrections or exhibiting nerve-wracking dartiness in lumpy curves. Indeed, with this powertrain, braking, and steering set-up, the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 behaves very much like a Mercedes-Benz AMG product, feeling like it could be driven hard all day long with nary a hiccup.
Just be prepared for the backbreaking ride quality. The Crossfire SRT-6 rides stiffly, in part due to the tighter suspension but also because of the Michelin Pilot Sport tires, and while the payoff is incredible grip when running hard, driving around town makes for significant discomfort. If the ride quality is important to you, the standard Crossfire delivers far more supple cruising capability.
Also, visibility is lacking. The Crossfire’s oval side mirrors are on the small side, and the SRT-6’s fixed rear spoiler blocks the view to the back and rear three-quarters. And with the top up, half of the small slit that is the rear window is blocked by the spoiler.
Comfort and Convenience
Comfort and convenience are not the Chrysler Crossfire’s calling cards. Sure, the firm front seats that don’t feel so great at first offer excellent comfort over the long haul, but otherwise the Crossfire’s interior needs a redesign. The side sills are too high to use as an elbow rest, the shape of the steering wheel rim is a bit uncomfortable to grip, and bracing your leg on the hard plastic of the center console is painful. Plus, the front passenger’s seat sits too low to the floor and needs a height adjuster, and shorter drivers complain that the lower dashboard knee bolsters are uncomfortably.
And don’t think it’s going to be easy to get into or out of the Crossfire – entry and exit are deliberate thanks to low seating H-points and narrow portals. The tall doorsill and lack of a tilt steering wheel don’t help matters, and when the top is raised, tall people must bend and twist to get behind the wheel.
Drop the top, and there’s plenty of wind buffeting at head level, though the lower portion of the cabin remains commendably draft free. Whether the top is up or down, the Crossfire SRT-6 is noisy inside, and when it’s raised, it creaks over bumps. And don’t forget: You lose half your trunk space when driving al fresco.
Lifting items into the Crossfire’s trunk ain’t easy because the opening is so high off the ground. Inside, there’s a large, lined and lit glovebox, storage nets on the door panels and in the passenger’s footwell, an awkwardly located center bin, a pop-out slot on the dash, two cargo hooks on the bulkhead, and a pouch on the back wall of the cabin. There’s also a single, flimsy, almost useless pop-out cupholder in the center console. Best of luck with that grande café mocha.
Like the cupholder, the Crossfire’s switchgear could be simpler in terms of design and operation. For instance, the stereo ergonomics are nightmarish. Turn the system on, and the screen says to press “OK” if you understand that the optional navigation system is not to be programmed while underway. Trouble is, we never found the “OK” button.
Our test car’s 240-watt Infinity Modulus multi-function audio system included navigation and a number of programmable features, and the manual that teaches how to use all this stuff was 108 pages long. We didn’t bother with it, and discovered that the navigation system is surprisingly easy to program. However, it doesn’t provide a map showing the route to your destination, so you’ve gotta rely on voice prompts and directional arrows to arrive alive. Making things harder than they need to be are small buttons with poor-contrast markings on the Crossfire’s silver plastic dash trim.
Other ergonomic complaints included the Mercedes-style cruise control stalk, which at first is easy to confuse with the turn signal stalk. The headlight switch is hard to turn, and while the Crossfire’s semi-automatic climate control layout is simple, visual contrast with the silver dash trim is average at best.
Finally, consider yourself warned – the Chrysler Crossfire carries no spare tire. Instead, you get something called the Tire Fit system, which includes a spray can of tire sealant and an air compressor. Major tire damage will require a tow truck and a tire shop.
FAQ and Specifications
Why do you think the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 is a "chick car"? If the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 were a celebrity, it would be Bruce Willis – tough (“Die Hard” trilogy), but with soft, sensitive side (“The Sixth Sense”).
How much of the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 is a previous-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG? Most of the important bits such as engine, transmission, steering, suspension, and brakes come directly out of the Mercedes-Benz AMG speed shop.
If you were spending $50,000, would you buy the Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6? It’s unlikely that we would select this car over most of its competitors.
Test Vehicle: 2005 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 Roadster
Price of Test Vehicle: $51,195 (including $875 destination charge)
Engine Size and Type: 3.2-liter supercharged V6
Engine Horsepower: 330 at 6,100 rpm
Engine Torque: 310 lb.-ft. between 3,500 and 4,800 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Curb weight: 3,328 lbs.
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 17/24 mpg
Observed Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg
Length: 159.8 inches
Width: 69.5 inches
Wheelbase: 94.5 inches
Height: 51.8 inches
Leg room: 42.7 inches
Head room: 37.3 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: 2
Max. Cargo Volume: 6.5 cubic feet (top up); 3.6 cubic feet (top down)
Competitors: BMW Z4 3.0i, Audi TT Quattro Roadster, Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, Ford Mustang GT Convertible, Lexus SC 430, Lotus Elise, Mercedes-Benz SLK350, Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG, Nissan 350Z Roadster, Porsche Boxster
Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler