Autos: Adding Fuel to the Crossfire

Despite valiant efforts throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Chrysler failed to capture the premium cachet of Cadillac and Lincoln. However, Chrysler did have the high-output Hemi engine, which gave its Letter Series cars a level of performance that neither Cadillac nor Lincoln attempted to duplicate.

Chrysler continues this practice of dropping powerful motors into handsome sedans and coupes, having unleashed the exceptional Hemi-powered 300C earlier this year before again channeling its muscle-era Mopar roots to produce the SRT6, a high-performance variant of the Crossfire.

Based substantially on the Mercedes-Benz SLK, the standard-form Crossfire utilizes a 215 hp normally aspirated version of that car’s 3.2-liter V-6. The SRT6 (starting at $45,700 for the coupe and $50,000 for the convertible) likewise shares its 5-speed automatic transmission and supercharged 3.2-liter V-6 from AMG—rated at 330 hp and 310 ft lbs of torque—with the SLK32. The extra impetus moves the SRT6 with authority—from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds, says Chrysler—and it makes a truly wonderful noise along the way.

Do not mistake the SRT6 for a warmed-over SLK32. For instance, the SRT team had its own way with the suspension, which gives the SRT6 a more rough-edged and aggressive feel than the SLK32. The Chrysler remains impressively flat even in hard cornering, yet the trade-off is a stiff ride that can be harsh even on smooth roads. This is, however, appropriate for the SRT6’s sporting nature, and Chrysler should be credited for stressing performance.
 
Inside the cabin, space is at a premium. Even those shorter than 6 feet will have to choose between the angle of the seat back and the distance of the seat from the steering wheel. A comfortable driving position can be had, but it takes some work to achieve. Suede seats provide visual appeal—and hold driver and passenger in place during spirited maneuvers.

The Crossfire boasts elegant sheet metal that balances Art Deco themes with modern sensibilities, and Chrysler carefully edited external cues for the SRT6—a refreshing approach, given past American tendencies to emphasize the hood’s appearance rather than what resided beneath. The most notable examples are 15-spoke alloy wheels—18 inches up front and 19 at the rear—and a fixed rear wing in lieu of the standard Crossfire’s retractable version.

Chrysler’s use of SRT tuners—coupled with substantial Mercedes-Benz and AMG engineering—could eventually catapult its top products firmly and credibly into the premium category. Until then, brand snobs might balk at driving a car with Chrysler’s badge on the hood. That would be their loss, for the SRT6 looks terrific and drives even better.

Chrysler
www.chrysler.com

An improved power-to-weight ratio allows the car to reach a top speed of 217 mph…
McLaren, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Cadillac, and Lincoln, among others, made stunning showings…
Photo by Michael Furman
Vintage Porsches are ascending to new heights among collectors...
The $100,000 cruiser is tricked out with carbon fiber and solid performance for an electric two-...
With a turbocharged engine and three electric motors, the new NSX will challenge the top models...
Photo by Mercedes-Benz USA
AMG GLE63 Coupe and AMG GLE450 Coupe boast impressive acceleration times…
The two-seat sports car features contemporary reinterpretations of classic Bentley design cues…
One of the most technologically advanced electric power trains to make its way onto a production...
Photo by Royce Rumsey
The annual springtime event highlights some of the world’s finest collector cars…
The new vehicles are lighter and quicker than their gas-burning counterparts…