14 May 2007
With its just released Sebring sedan, Chrysler has given us a
car thatís not as radical in its lines as the rest of the range. While
the American company has produced stunning shapes in machines like the
PT Cruiser hatch, Crossfire and the over-the-top 300C sedan, Sebring is
relatively conservative. This probably makes sense because itís aimed
at the mid-sized market segment that generally attracts quieter buyers.
Not that the new Chrysler is plain in absolute
terms, there are some interesting styling ideas, including a
further interpretation of Chrysler's big-grille theme, and strakes
on the bonnet that echo those of the Crossfire.
Sebring comes to Australia in its two topline
variants, the lower cost model not being imported. The mid-range
model is the Sebring Touring (though itís a four-door sedan, not
a wagon as the title suggests). Priced at $33,990, it is well
equipped, with leather trim, a powered driverís seat, 17-inch
alloy wheels, power windows and door mirrors and a fascinating
drink holder than can heat (though not boil), or cool, drinks.
Sebring Limited is the topline model. At $37,490,
it also gets 18-inch alloy wheels, an electric sunroof, a more
upmarket interior with pseudo-wood highlights, and tyre pressure
The audio system on both Sebring models has seven
speakers, but the Limited has an impressive Boston Acoustics
six-CD setup. Both the Touring and Limited can be specified with
what Chrysler calls a MyGIG system, from Harmon/Kardon. This
includes a 20 Gb hard drive that can hold music and photographs.
Additionally, your iPod or other personal audio device can be
connected to the Sebring.
Safety is a major feature of the car with both
variants getting ESP, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Brake
Assist, and six airbags the including curtain airbags.
Interior space is good and the rear seat can cope
with two larger than average adults, three children will travel in
comfort. All seats except for the driverís can be folded flat to
make for plenty of carrying capacity, including long loads.
However, Chrysler's suggestion that the folded-down
front-passenger seatback can be used to carry the likes of a
laptop and handbag should be frowned upon for reasons of safety.
At this stage, power for the Sebring comes from a
2.4-litre petrol engine, putting out 125 kW, and 220 Nm at 4500
rpm. The latter figure is a little disappointing for a modern
twin-cam engine with variable timing. We had expected it to
develop more Newton metres and to do so at more useable revs. Itís
likely that a moderate driver will never get the full benefit of
the peak torque because of this.
Initially, a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and a
2.7-litre V6 petrol engine were expected to be offered as options,
but both have been put on the back burner for an indefinite
All have a four-speed automatic transmission with
tiptronic overrides. Five speeds would have been nice and such a
unit is expected later.
The engine is no ball of fire, but pulls well and
can hold on nicely on hills. However, itís surprisingly noisy
when accelerated hard. Which is a shame because the car is
otherwise very quiet as some clever engineering has gone into NVH
(Noise, Vibration and Harshness) minimisation.
Chrysler's new Sebring has what the company
describes as semi-European steering and handling. We found the car
to be on the soft side for our tastes as far as handling is
concerned, but it holds on safely and provides good riding
comfort, so we feel the compromise is right for the typical buyer.
Marque Publishing Company