Eye-catching design is a Daimler-Chrysler trademark. And for the 2004 model year, Chrysler reinforced that point with the stunning German-built Crossfire Coupe. So how do you top that? Well, by dropping the top, of course! This is the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster. Open air driving, Chrysler style, and Mercedes-Benz engineering. How do you top that?
They don’t have to! With more than enough beauty and brains to compete with class rivals, the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster has nothing to prove ¡© it’s simply everything we liked about the hard-top with that top ripped back.
Dripping with tri-color pride, the Roadster boasts pure American styling atop its German frame. But the sleek, streaked Crossfire body trades its controversial boat-tail hardtop for a very complementary soft-top with glass rear window and defroster.
To reveal the sharp, top-down profile, it takes about 22 seconds, and a little muscle. By pulling down the center-mounted handle from the windshield header and twisting, the fabric top is released and the side glass lowered. Then you must push the front of the top up about 8 inches. Now, touch a console button and power operation takes over, including opening and closing the hard tonneau cover. Voila! The top is down in no time. But it took a little while longer to put it back up as we consistently struggled pulling the top down to the windshield header. Added top-down styling touches include chrome sport bars behind both seats, and a set of raised fairings molded into the hard tonneau cover.
With the added open-air bonus, Chrysler designers worked hard to keep the spirit of the Coupe rushing over the new Roadster’s retrospective curves. From its wide Chrysler-winged grille, long hood with center spine and deep grooves, to vented side panels and tall metal-swept doors, to wheel wells nicely stuffed with 18-inch front and 19-inch rear tires, to its tapered back and retractable rear spoiler, the Roadster is an excellent transition from coupe to uncovered.
But that’s not all that’s familiar. The convertible Crossfire also keeps its big power too! It’s motivated by the same 3.2-liter single-cam V6 used in the Coupe. A powerhouse borrowed from the SLK on which the Crossfire is heavily based. It delivers 215 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. That’s more torque than the Porsche Boxster, Audi TT quattro and BMW’s Z4. Available transmissions are our test car’s 6-speed manual, or a 5-speed automatic with AutoStick manual shift mode.
Jab the pedal, and this Crossfire romps to 60 in 7.1 seconds. With less than 100 pounds of added structural weight, that time is just 6 tenths of a second slower than the Coupe. The quarter mile passes in an equally spirited 15.3 seconds, at 93 miles-per-hour. Throttle response is still impressive, and gear change is solid and well matched. Save from its overly sensitive traction control that prevented any wheel spin at launch, and an oddly shaped shifter knob, our drivers were all smiles.
More than a sporty car, our drivers insisted that the Crossfire, top or no top, is a real sports car, much more so than the softer-sprung SLK. Riding on a refined MacPherson strut front and 5-link rear suspension, and aided by standard electronic stability control, the Roadster proves very stable and well balanced for a converted rag-top. Designers did an effective job of replacing most of the body rigidity lost with the top. The ball-type steering is a little heavy and numb in corners, but on-center feel is excellent. With very little body roll, the Crossfire Roadster proves flat and competent.
Braking is by powerful 4-wheel-discs with ABS and Brake Assist. From 60, they delivered a short average stopping distance of 116 feet. No sweat.
The Crossfire Roadster retains the Coupe’s strong, solid and precise feeling that easily makes you forget you’re in a convertible. Plus, for a convertible, the interior is a very quiet place. Credit here is given to the multi-layer top with extra sound insulation, a step that we think is essential to reduce top up wind rush at speed.
The exceptionally well-equipped cabin is complete with everything from leather and retro-gauges, to dual-zone automatic climate and tire pressure monitoring, all once again reflecting the Coupe’s roots. Interior room is more generous than you expect and most will find a perfect seating position. However, petite members of our staff complained that the tilt-telescoping steering wheel couldn’t compensate for a lack of adjustable pedals. They found them out of reach. Plus, limited seat height adjustment hindered fore and aft visibility.
Trunk space is tiny at 6.5 cubic feet with the top up, and only 3.6 with it down. So, pack very lightly. But, in total, drivers large and small gave this highly competent luxury roadster two big thumbs up for its drop-top makeover.
And it’s pretty reasonably priced, too. $34,960 will garner the base Crossfire with a six-speed manual. That’s about 5-grand less than an SLK. $38,920 puts you in a Limited Roadster. And to take the wheel of the soon-to-launch SRT-6, with its supercharged V-6 and five-speed AutoStick, throw away that money clip and lay down $49,995 to ride.
And what a ride it will be, no matter which one you choose! Sitting at the helm of the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster you’ll be the bell of the ball, or the king of the crop, commanding the best example yet of German performance and all-American style.
Engine: 3.2-Liter Single-cam V6
Torque: 229 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 7.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.3 Seconds @ 93 MPH
60-0 MPH: 116 Feet
EPA Mileage: 17 MPG City 25 MPG Highway