Preview & Specifications: Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6

Chrysler's cute Crossfire coupe got off to a slow start in the U.S., but sales have picked up since DaimlerChrysler got real on the pricing and started incentivizing, to use the current jargon. It now outsells the Porsche Boxster and Audi TT combined, Chrysler execs are proud to point out. A convertible will no doubt help the car's appeal, as will the very sporty SRT-6 version that goes on sale this summer. The SRT-6, which is available as a coupe and roadster for - deep breath - $45,695 and $49,795 respectively, is billed as Chrysler's fastest ever car, with a top speed of 158 mph. It is also, as you can see from the dollar numbers, Chrysler's most expensive car ever.

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The SRT part of the equation denotes that DCX's Street and Racing Technology Group has given the Crossfire some performance and attitude. The attitude is visually denoted by a large fixed tail wing, deeper chin spoiler, and attractive eighteen-inch front and nineteen-inch rear wheels, shod with 225/40 front and 255/35 Michelin Pilot Sport 2s. Inside, Alcantara seat inserts that are supposed to keep your butt better in place under hard cornering and a 200-mph gauge cluster are the only significant modifications over the stock Crossfire.

The performance comes from an AMG supercharged version of the Crossfire's corporate Mercedes 3.2-liter, SOHC, 18-valve V-6 engine. Power goes up from 215 hp to 330 hp, with 310 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that has manu-matic actuation.

The SRT-6 shares an awful lot in common with the outgoing SLK32 AMG, other than just the engine and gearbox. The dual control arm front and multilink rear suspension are virtually identical, although they are tuned in this application, with firmer damping and much stiffer spring rates. (They have gone up from 303 pounds per inch front and 337 pounds per inch rear to 451 lb/in and 480 lb/in respectively on the coupe.) The brakes, too, have come in for attention, with vented discs all around (the stock car has solid rear rotors), bigger front discs, and dual piston calipers in place of single-piston items.

The upshot is a car with serious performance credentials. Chrysler claims 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, 0-100-0 mph in less than 16 seconds, and 60 to 0 mph braking in about 115 feet. In terms of bang for your buck, the SRT-6 delivers, although it is far pricier than a 350Z and up there in rarefied BMW/Porsche/Mercedes territory.

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