- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

I had the pleasure to experience the all new Chrysler Crossfire months ago, long before it was available to most. That early exposure to a prototype of Chrysler’s all-new sport coupe gave me high hopes for the final production model. Would this car reach the high expectations I and so many others had?

Well, I can say after having the Crossfire while participating in the California Mille, a 1,000-mile tour of Northern California’s rural roads, that this car is destined to be a big hit. Not only was the Crossfire fun and exciting to drive, it drew attention in every little town I drove through.

To say the car is eye-catching is a major understatement.

The first true product to come from the merger of Daimler and Chrysler, the Crossfire is a wonderful collection of German engineering and reliability combined with American styling and design. This car is the unique combination of classic design and contemporary styling that draws you in. Like a spider sitting in a sticky web, the Crossfire’s handsome looks grab you and won’t let you go. But it is the combination of the two disciplines that entices you to remain.

Don’t think that this is a replacement for the gutsy brawn of the Viper. The Crossfire isn’t going to slap your head back into the seat with 500 horsepower. No, the Crossfire is much more subtle and refined.

A wonderfully smooth 3.2-liter V-6 of German development sits under the sculpted hood with sculpted flutes formed into its surface. Also, a design feature found on many famous sports cars is a center spine that runs from the grille into the center of the dash up along the roof and culminating at the rear-winged Chrysler badge just above the rear bumper.

The Crossfire’s long nose and large greenhouse show design cues that cause you to stroll around the car again and again. It is hard say whether I would rather sit in the car or be outside and gaze at its attractive styling.

Really, I would much rather drive the Crossfire. Even though I do not fit into the passenger compartment as well as I would like, it was tough for me to dislike the driver’s seat, I had that much fun driving along the twisting country roads.

A functional, motorized rear spoiler deploys at 55 mph and retracts at just below 30 mph. This electronically controlled wing actual creates down force on the rear of the Crossfire to add stability at highway speeds. This isn’t just a appearance accessory.

The 215 horsepower generated by the aluminum V-6 engine is transferred to the pavement through either a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission or, my favorite, a Getag six-speed manual. The automatic comes equipped with a manual mode, but it just isn’t the same as moving the mechanical bits that run from gear shift to gear box. Even though manual transmissions are moving quickly toward the way of the eight-track tape players, I continue to want them to stay.

The rear-wheel-drive configuration lends itself to allowing the driver to manipulate the car with a combination of steering wheel and left foot. This isn’t for the inexperienced or the faint of heart, for you could quickly get in over your head. Chrysler thought of that and has installed electronic traction control and Electronic Stability Program to help keep the car on the pavement and the driver from getting in an embarrassing situation.

Unequivocal good looks, snug interior and performance not to be ashamed of make the Crossfire a sport coupe that is going to get a great deal of attention, On the road, in parking lots and at stop signs, you will not be able to keep the looky-loos from indulging in your ride. It is the curse of having exceptionally classic design in an automobile.

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