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2006 Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 Road Test

Awesome looks accompany supercharged performance

By Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan

2006 Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 roadster.When Chrysler first introduced the Crossfire in 2004, it received mixed reactions from the world's auto journalists; some loved it, and some loathed it. Many went on and on about how visually pleasing the vehicle was, but how it lacked the performance and handling to make it a true sports car. I recently drove the supercharged SRT6 version of the Crossfire, which was launched for the 2005 model year, and I can tell you, performance is no longer an issue; in fact, it now leaves most of the competition wallowing in its dust.

I love the shape of the Crossfire; in fact, I think that it is possibly one of the best looking sports cars on the road today. For some time now, I have been in total awe of the Chrysler exterior design team. They are constantly pushing boundaries and have succeeded in putting some of the world's best looking vehicles onto our roads.

Take a look at the hood on the Crossfire; it has a shape that is totally unique and looks simply stunning. Take another look; it resembles the draining board on my kitchen sink. How did they do that? They take a basic, ordinary shape, and turn it into a thing of automotive beauty. Then there's the rear of the car, with its sexy dual centre exit exhausts that you would only expect to find on an expensive, exotic Italian model.

The roadster version of the Crossfire -- new in 2005 -- looks wonderful with the top up, but push a button and the top disappears nicely under a hard cover, revealing two stylish roll bars that make the vehicle look awesome.

The Crossfire is in many ways one of the new “global vehicles.” It is based on the Mercedes Benz SLK rear-wheel-drive platform and is actually built in Germany in the plant that produces the current SLK; it even carries its 3.2-litre V6 engine. There is, however, a little difference in the Crossfire SRT6, “it was breathed on by good old Uncle Sam”.

2006 Chrylser Crossfire SRT6 roadster interior.Chrysler has added a supercharger which enables the vehicle to accelerate from 0-60 mph in about five seconds, now that's exotic car territory! Its SOHC 18-valve engine produces 330 hp and although quiet at low speeds, gives a pleasant growl when the accelerator pedal is pushed.

The vehicle that I tested was fitted with a five-speed auto box, complemented by the Autostick feature. It is also available as a stick shift, but I think that this works best all-round.

The floor pan is from Mercedes Benz but Uncle Sam strengthened the underside, improving on the M-B version and giving it class-leading rigidity. The front suspension is a double wishbone setup with gas charged shocks. On the rear, there are independent coil springs with gas shocks again. This setup might not give the mind-blowing handling of a Ferrari, but is more than adequate for the vehicle and supplies a better ride quality than some of its competitors.

The car carries 18-in. wheels up front and 19-inchers on the rear, which certainly add a little something to the look of the vehicle. The 225/35/19 rear tires might appear like the rubber was sprayed on, but they do give amazing grip. The ride qualities, however, do not suffer from this, as the car has a curb weight of only 1,500 kgs.

The SRT6 drives like an expensive European sports car, but you are constantly aware that what's lurking underneath is a little out of the ordinary.

This brings us to the interior of the SRT6 and I'll be totally honest with you; I can't say that I instantly fell in love with it. No doubt, Chrysler's exterior design team laboured through the nights to bring us this stylish roadster. Uncle Sam's technical wizards were possibly equally busy, fine tuning it into an awesome hot rod. The interior team, in my opinion, let the side down a little. It is not that it's a total disaster zone; it's just that it doesn't live up to the rest of this impressive package.

2006 Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 roadster interior.The dashboard and door panels have a strange texture and a somewhat rubbery feel to them. This, I think, might take a little getting used to, but it's no real issue. Running up through the centre of the interior, however, is what can only be described as a large chunk of silver-coloured plastic. This dull aluminum-looking plastic is becoming the norm on a lot of vehicles nowadays. When used for small accent features, it is quite acceptable, but for covering a large centre console, I think it just looks cheap and it succeeded in spoiling the whole interior for me.

The SRT6 does, however, boast race-inspired seats trimmed in Nappa Pearl Leather with Alcantara suede inserts and bolsters which glue you to the seat and are just perfect in a car with the performance of the SRT6. The instrumentation layout and illumination is pleasing to the eye and the controls are mostly conveniently placed; it also carries a rather nice stereo system.

2006 Chrylser Crossfire SRT6 roadster.With the top up, entry and exit into the Crossfire takes some getting used to because of the low roof that curves down to meet the side windows, but once inside, headroom is plentiful due to the car's domed shape. This of course is totally irrelevant and I only included it to fill up some space on the page. The SRT6 looks so good with the top down, it should be driven that way, even if the sun is just peeking out, and after all, it carries a great heating system.

The true test of a car like this is how it makes you feel, and after a week spent in the SRT6, I felt great and in fact, I didn't want to give it back. I could picture myself living with one of these in my driveway. It might take me a few weeks to get used to the interior and I'd never particularly like the centre console, but the rest of the car is absolutely amazing.

My Rating: 9- / 10

Vehicle price as tested $66,425

EnerGuide fuel efficiency rating, L/100 km (City/Hwy): 13.7/9.0

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