The Chrysler Crossfire was first unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in 2001 as a concept car but took a further three years to hit the Australian market in its mainstream guise which is, thankfully, as true to the original as Chrysler were able to make it.
The Crossfire was developed jointly by Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler and marked a positive step forward for the Chrysler brand, though this partnership has since dissolved and Chrysler is now controlled by the rather more pedestrian Fiat. However, the collaboration left its mark with the Crossfire. Based on the SLK platform, it is fair to say that, save for the lack of folding metal roof, the Crossfire is essentially the same car for tens of thousands of dollars less. Few would deny that the Crossfire’s styling is as attractive as they come – the long bonnet and vents are offset to perfection by the beautiful curving rear – a nod to contemporary Chrysler styling that sets it apart from the crowd. Both the styling and the finish set the bar high – the Crossfire is a head turner that also performs well.
Styles for the Crossfire include the original coupe, which was joined by a roadster convertible in 2004 and a high-spec SRT-6 in 2005. The model was discontinued in 2009 and to date hasn’t been replaced.
The Crossfire uses larger wheels at the rear than the front, delivering superb balance to the chassis and good road holding at speed. Handling in general is a delight, whether you are motoring around town or full-throttle on the highway, but the sporty drive certainly does not come at the expense of comfort.
The standard Crossfire comes with a 3.2-litre V6 engine that powers the car via the rear wheels, and comes complete with a 5-speed automatic transmission or a popular 6-speed manual alternative. The SRT-6 is only available with the 5-speed automatic but this option certainly makes the most of that model’s additional power. The SRT-6 delivers 246kW and 420Nm of torque, providing instant acceleration from a wide range of speed. Speed from 0-100km/h is achieved in five seconds and there is plenty of power waiting in the wings to propel it ever-faster forward. The V6 delivers the benefits of decent fuel economy that you wouldn’t find in a V8, yet with plenty of power to match its V8 competitors.
The SRT-6 boasts all-wheel independent suspension with increased spring rates and performance-tuned dampers, along with upgraded aerodynamics, upgraded brakes and an ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) to ensure it hugs the road exactly as it is meant to.
The Crossfire has a reputation for reliability. It is well designed, well built and most examples have been used as town-centre head turners as opposed to serious cruisers, meaning that many offer low mileage and a decent service history to fall back on.
The Crossfire’s silver-finished central console is well laid out and offers up pretty much everything you would expect from a car of this calibre, though the close marriage with the SLK means that the Crossfire lacks some of the electronics that later-developed cars sport – including steering wheel controls for the sound system and other small details. This is a quality car, however, with the interior sporting a leather trim, heated power seats, high-quality stereo system, dual-zone air conditioning and cruise control, and plenty of additional creature comforts.
The 5-speed automatic transmission is standard issue is the Crossfire, though a 6-speed manual option is available in all but the SRT-6 models.
The Crossfire deserved to perform better than it has – but this is largely good news for those in the market for a second-hand model as resale values have fallen harder than some of the competition. Given that it was available at a vastly reduced rate in the first place when compared to its competition – not least the SLK itself – the Crossfire, especially in its SRT-6 guise, offers excellent value for money. Other competition comes from the roadsters such as the Nissan 350Z, Mazda RX8 and the Honda S2000.