Used Chrysler Crossfire review: 2003-2009
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The brief flirtation between Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler resulted in a number of interesting cars, the Crossfire sports car being one of them. Given the inevitable cross-pollination that went on between 'Benz and its American brand it was only a matter of time before a Chrysler version of the SL/K sports car emerged.
The result was a sports car that performed and handled well by European standards, but with a brash look that could only come from America. If the SL/K was designed to blast along the autobahns of its homeland the Crossfire, it seemed, was created for the boulevards of California.
The Crossfire Coupe that landed here in 2003 wasn't intended to compete with its German cousin even though it took its mechanical underpinnings from the SL/K. The Chrysler sportie was several thousand dollars cheaper than the equivalent 'Benz model, which put it into an entirely different price category and had it competing with cars like the Audi TT and Alfa GTV rather than the SL/K. Even so it was still a 'Benz at heart with some 40 per cent of the Crossfire's parts, including the chassis, engine and transmission, coming from the SL/K.
While the mechanical package was familiar Mercedes-Benz fare the Crossfire's looks were not. Unlike the SL/K, which was designed to be a convertible coupe with a folding steel roof, the Crossfire was created to be either a fixed-roof coupe or a roadster.
The Coupe arrived first and while its proportions were similar to the SL/K's its severely truncated and very rounded rump instantly set the Crossfire apart from its corporate cousin. The front of the Crossfire Coupe was easy to like, it was pleasantly styled and pleasing to the eye, but the rounded rear was a visual challenge. You either liked it or loathed it; there was no middle ground.
When it arrived in 2004 the Roadster was a much nicer looking car with much less dramatic lines, the rear was much more pleasing to the eye, and it had a more conventional roofline. By the time it was strengthened to compensate for the absence of the steel roof, the Roadster was only 36 kg heavier than the Coupe, so it didn't lose much in the transformation. The resulting body was quite rigid, and there was little scuttle shake, which is the scourge of many a soft-top.
While not fully automated the Roadster's roof was easy to use, you simply unclipped it from the windscreen header and eased it back a few centimeters when the powered mechanism took over and lowered it the rest of the way. Inside it was snug with sporty seats that were a little hard, but still supportive.
There was just one engine available at the launch, that being a single overhead camshaft 3.2-litre V6 that boasted 160 kW at 5700 revs and 310 Nm at 3000 revs. Later, in 2005, a supercharged version of the V6 was added. That delivered a whopping punch of 246 kW at 6100 revs and 420 Nm from 3500 to 4800 revs.
There was a choice of five-speed sequential shift auto or six-speed manual gearbox on the normally aspirated V6 models, but buyers of the supercharged engine could only have the auto. Like most sports cars the Crossfire was rear-wheel drive.
Oddly the Crossfire used different sized wheels back to front, with 18-inch alloys at the front and 19-inch at the rear. There was no spare provided, so you had to rely on a sealant and compressor in the event of a flat. Underneath, it boasted independent front suspension with wishbones and coil springs, and a five-link rear set-up.
In the shop
There are no serious issues that Crossfire buyers have to be concerned about, it is generally reliable and 'Benz mechanical bits and pieces seem robust. Look for a service record to confirm a regular maintenance routine has been followed with regular oil changes. It's also worth checking for signs a car has been given a thrashing by an uncaring owner.
In a crash
With very competent underpinnings in the form of the Mercedes-Benz chassis and suspension, plus standard ABS antilock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and stability control the Crossfire has the best weapons currently available to maintain control in an emergency situation. Add to that front and side airbags and there's also a good level of protection once the metal begins the crumple.
At the pump
Chrysler claimed the V6 Crossfire would return an average of 10.6 L/ 100 km, the supercharged V6 10.9 L/100 km, but the real life consumption depends very much on the driver's right foot. When tested by Carsguide the supercharged Crossfire averaged 14.2 L. 100 km.
Two years ago when Greg Thomas decided he didn't need the back half of his Ford Fairlanes he bought Chrysler Crossfire. He still wanted some punch and to make visual statement, and he says the Crossfire delivers very well on both fronts. It really jumps out of the blocks and has brilliant pick-up from 110-120 km/h that blasts the car forward if needed, and has endless grip thanks to its large tyres. He loves the snug driving position with everything in reach, the seat comfort and support, and the feel of the car. On the downside he says replacing the tyres is expensive, the wipers only have two speeds, the heating system dials and the CD player. Having said that though he adds that the heating system delivers within about 200 metres of driving and the power of the sound system is numbing. He rates the Crossfire at 90/100.
- Distinctive muscular looks
- A real headturner
- Robust Mercedes mechanicals
- Spirited performance
- Generally reliable
- No spare.
The bottom line
More a cruiser than a hard-edged sports car, but is still great fun to drive.
|Year||Price From||Price To|
Range and Specs
|(base)||3.2L, ULP, 5 SP SEQ AUTO||$8,000 – 12,320||2003 Chrysler Crossfire 2003 (base) Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data