The new Sebring was Chrysler’s much-hailed offering to the Australian market in 2007. Available in standard sedan format and a retro-styled Cabrio version, the Sebring boasts all-American looks and a decent helping of badge appeal. While it had been around for some two decades in the States in left-hand drive format, it took some time to make it to our hallowed shores in its new right-hand drive guise. So was it worth waiting for?
There is something distinctly all American – and really rather pleasing – about the Chrysler styling. Chryslers are, well, unmistakeably Chryslers, and that has to be a good thing. The biggest question Chrysler has to answer is whether their cars perform as well on the road as they do in the looks department. That said, the Sebring lives up to expectations more so than many of its Chrysler counterparts, from the compact Neon to the Grand Voyager people mover.
Buyers in the market for the Cabrio can choose between a traditional soft top and a folding metal hard top, or for the more traditional, the sedan is a popular option. Looks-wise the Cabrio and the sedan are very similar from the front; although from the side, it is clear that the Cabrio has been booted up with some extra length to allow for the roof space without compromising on storage.
If you are in the market for a more recent Sebring, expect to find yourself choosing between several model types. There is a 2.7L V6 petrol two-door Cabrio giving 137kW and 256Nm of torque in two trim levels, the JS Limited and JS Touring. This is coupled with a 6-speed automatic gearbox and reaches 0-100km in a slightly sedate 10.3 seconds. The same engine is also fitted to the JS Limited four-door sedan, as is a 2.4L option with 4-speed automatic transmission, again in Touring or Limited trim. From 0-100km for this model takes 11.3 seconds, and you can expect fuel consumption to be in the region of 7L/100km as against the 10L/100km of its rather thirstier counterpart.
If you are in the market for a Chrysler Sebring, expect to find a decent level of kit on all models as standard.
The soft-top Cabrio Touring model comes with electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system, four-wheel independent suspension, and brake assist with traction control, ensuring that performance is as good at higher speeds as it is at slow pace. Other safety features include driver and passenger airbags and front-seat mounted side airbags. Expect also to find tyre-pressure monitoring display, 6-way power driver’s seat, leather steering wheel and gearstick, security alarm, automatic temperature control, and 17-inch alloys.
Trim levels on the Cabrio Limited offer a slightly higher spec, with two-tone leather interior and tortoise shell and chrome accents. Add to this heated front seats, heated and cooled front cup holders, 18-inch alloys, superior sound system, and touchscreen with DVD and 20GB hard drive.
Some will be fitted out with more in the way of options. Expect to come across premium paint, 18-inch alloys, satnav system, or Bluetooth hand-free connectivity if a model you are interested in has been fitted with option extras.
Thoughtful touches include a locking glove compartment, enabling drivers to leave items safely secured while the car is parked with the top down, and dual storage bins to keep any debris contained while you are on the move.
The Sebring sedan competes with some of the biggest players on the Australian market in terms of looks and size – think Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. It is a decent-size family car that does what it says on the tin with a handy spoonful of good looks and charm sprinkled on for good measure.
Anyone in the market for a convertible with style will not be disappointed with the Sebring Cabrio, although there are quite a few alternatives to choose from in this bracket. Consider the Volkswagen options, including the Beetle for a touch of classic glamour or the Golf and Eos for looks and performance – the latter offers an innovative folding hard top to match the Sebring Limited’s offering, ensuring less cabin noise and more security than the traditional soft top. If badge appeal is less important, consider the Peugeot 307cc, which offers a decent coupe/convertible format and a good, fun drive. The Holden Astra twin top or the Mini Cooper S Cabriolet are pretty as a picture to look at and hold value well on the forecourt to boot.