Liked the seat warmers...

2011-07-15 14:57

It’s no secret that I love any car – whether it’s a bakkie, an SUV, a little run-around or a luxurious sedan – I’ll drive anything with four wheels.

So I was rather taken aback that I could not bear driving Chrysler’s Sebring convertible and could only find one thing I liked about it.

Several motoring colleagues had shared their utter disappointment in the car, but I thought nothing of it – that it couldn’t possibly be that bad and that I would patiently wait my turn to drive the car and judge for myself.

It arrived two weeks ago, a champagne-coloured vehicle with hard, cream leather seats. I glanced at it as I walked by and thought it didn’t look that bad, not the most sophisticated, but not bad at all.

Even some passers-by thought it looked quite stunning, but it’s definitely a car for those who have acquired the taste. The huge headlights are outdated.

The Sebring is almost four years old (it was launched back in 2008) and since then, Chrysler has sold a measly 240 of them in the country.

The car is way too long and bulky. The good thing about that usually means a fairly spacious cabin for both the front and rear passengers – and a user-friendly boot. I’m all for big wheels, but one hardly notices the 18-inch rims on the Sebring because of its size and the high ride-height.

The cream seats with the badge embossed is a nice touch, but the two-tone, cream-and-beige dashboard and interior trim don’t work for me. I can’t help but think of the “twice-as-nice” ice cream sucker from my childhood. Sadly, the ice cream is a better bet.

The colours are overwhelming and make the rest of the car look tacky with cheap plastic. The bit of fake aluminium is around the gear lever, and the interior would have looked better with more inserts in the right places. The less said about the fake wood trim on the steering wheel the better.

The button for the hard-top roof is situated on the right-hand side of the driver next to the steering wheel. It’s more practical when it’s located on the centre console so that the front passenger can also access it.

The roof takes a long 30 seconds to go down with a lot of squeaky, embarrassing noises in between.

While it eventually folds away neatly on the outside, the roof-lining looks creased when you put it back up. At least wind noise is at a minimum when driving with the roof down and one can keep relatively warm.

I liked the seat warmers, though, as they heat up almost instantly when turned on. But that’s about the only thing under my list of pros.

The car is powered by a 2.7-litre V6 engine along with a six-speed automatic gearbox. Chrysler claims the car delivers 137kW of power but it doesn’t feel anything close to it. You really need to put your foot on the pedal to make it go.

While gear changing is smooth, it has a horrible winding noise that just made me want to get to any destination as quickly as possible and park it.

With a R360 990 price tag, it’s little surprise that Chrysler has sold so few Sebring models.

Why would anyone buy this clunky car when there are better options available such as Peugeot’s 308 CC (R354 845) or Renault’s Megane CC (R359 900)?

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