2004 Chrysler Crossfire First Drive – Full Review of the New 2004 Chrysler Crossfire – Road & Track

27 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2004 Chrysler Crossfire First Drive – Full Review of the New 2004 Chrysler Crossfire – Road & Track
Chrysler Crossfire

By Matt DeLorenzo May 7, 2003 / Photos by John Lamm

More often than not, something is lost in the transition from concept to production car. It’s a rare treat when the real car improves on the original idea. Such is the case with the Crossfire, the 2-seat sports coupe that is positioned as Chrysler’s new icon.

The 2001 concept had a much edgier, aggressive look from its stacked vertical headlamp treatment to its bluff, chopped-off rear end. In adapting the Crossfire to production, designers penned a friendlier face that includes a horizontal headlamp treatment and a wide grille tucked neatly above the bumper line. This is the face of future Chryslers, as seen in the Pacifica and even the PT Dream Cruiser concept.

The production Crossfire also benefits from a slightly elongated cabin with a more gentle taper into the car’s boattail rear end. Another detail that failed to make it into production was the unique stand-up single windshield wiper that gave the concept a split-windshield look.

The Crossfire retains the strong character lines that include strakes in the hood and a pronounced fore-aft spine line. On the side, the front fender scallop is defined by a line that continues on to form the edge of the rear fender. With its long dash-to-axle ratio, the Crossfire presents a profile that’s half hood, half cab.

The car’s P225/40ZR-18 tires in the front and P255/35ZR-19 tires in the rear mounted on 7-spoke alloy wheels enhance its beefy look.

The Crossfire is the first DaimlerChrysler vehicle to use a high proportion of Mercedes-Benz components. Although there’s talk that the Crossfire is merely a rebodied SLK, much of the hardware is actually C-Class-based and the vehicle itself is a unique platform built in Germany by Karmann.

Nearly 40 percent of the content comes from Mercedes, including the 18-valve 3.2-liter V-6, which makes 215 bhp and 229 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic Mercedes gearbox driving the rear wheels. The rear axle, with its 5-link independent suspension, is also supplied by Mercedes.

Up front there’s an independent double wishbone suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The Crossfire rides on a 94.5-in. wheelbase and has an overall length of 159.8 in. It stands 51.5 in. tall and is 69.5 in. wide.

The cabin is clean and functional, Teutonic in execution. The black-faced analog instruments are ringed by chrome bezels, while the center dash features a satin aluminum finish, easy-to-use dials for the heating and air conditioning and a 240-watt Infinity sound system. Behind the twin bucket seats is a useful load area accessed by the hatchback.

Chrysler Crossfire

On paper, the 215 bhp seems a bit short for a car with sporting intentions, but on the road, thanks to a curb weight of 3000 lb. and a wide torque band, the Crossfire moves out smartly. It’s not a pavement-ripper by any means, but the electronic stability-control system is programmed to allow just enough slip for the rear wheels to chirp under hard acceleration and to step out slightly in hard cornering, which certainly adds to the fun factor.

The Crossfire truly excels in its body structure and control of noise, vibration and harshness. It feels as if it’s been carved from billet and this solid feel, complemented by the precise, German-tuned steering, makes the vehicle engaging to drive. There’s plenty of grip from the large wheels and tires, with a neutral set to the suspension.

While it certainly can be pushed like a sports car, it feels more like a grand tourer.

Therein lies the secret of the Crossfire’s appeal. Driving one of the comparison cars during our brief jaunt through Bavaria, I couldn’t help noticing how striking the Crossfire looks in everyday traffic. From its boattail rear end, to its extreme cab rearward design and its oversize wheels, the car is a stunner.

Chrysler may tout this vehicle as a blend of American and German cultures (the tagline is Route 66 meets the Autobahn), but I think this is a modern interpretation of the classic French sports coupe #151; a Talbot-Lago for the new millennium. Which is not bad for $35,000 or so.

The Crossfire has made a graceful transition from show stand to showroom. The next stop in a generation or two could be the lawn at Pebble Beach.

This Is A Developing Story

Chrysler Crossfire
Chrysler Crossfire
Chrysler Crossfire
Chrysler Crossfire
Chrysler Crossfire

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