The Sebring is a mid-range car in the £18,000-£19,000 sector, battling with upper spec versions of cars like the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Honda Accord and entry-level variants of premium contenders like BMW’s 3 Series and Audi’s A4.
This generation Sebring features a chassis shared with Mitsubishi. It’s a good-looking car although lacking the sort of in-your-face impact of its bigger brother, the 300C. It represents the first time that Chrysler has tried to penetrate this market with a right-hand drive car and is also the first time that Chrysler has fitted a diesel engine in a car in this sector. Although the company might be feeling its way a little, first impressions are good.
The engine line up encompasses three power plants, starting with a 154bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine with dual variable valve timing good for 36.2mpg. A more powerful option is the 167bhp 2.4 petrol unit that compensates British buyers for the lack of the V6 petrol engine offered in other markets. Of more relevance to European buyers is that 138bhp 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine shared with the Caliber. This is probably the version to go for. Not only do you get 45.6mpg combined fuel consumption but there’s a level of torque (229 lb ft) that humbles even the 2.4-liter petrol model (162 lb ft).
Whichever model you go for, only one plush trim level – Limited – is being offered. It includes everything from ‘cutting-edge’ information, entertainment and communication navigation audio system with a 20Gb hard drive to a heated and cooled front cup holder for keeping hot beverages hot and cool beverages cool. Air conditioning, air filtering, heated leather-trimmed seats and a long list of safety systems including ESP and side-curtain airbags are all fitted as standard.
The clocks are softly lit in blue, while the infotainment system on the centre console will be familiar to anyone who has driven a modern Mercedes. Metallic colored plastics dominate the centre console while the cowled dials, four-spoke sports steering wheel and two-tone trim on the doors act as small design signatures that lift the fascia above the mundane.
One of the most interesting features is the information, entertainment and communication navigation radio. This navigation radio features a 165mm (6.5 in) Thin Film Transistor (TFT) display with a touch-screen panel that can support 65,000 colors. The system provides a two- or three-dimensional appearance to graphics and animation, as well as multiple font sizes and styles. The system can follow voice-activated commands, provides real-time traffic updates and incorporates many new features for music, sound, movies and personalized picture displays, including – and here’s the most interesting part - a 20-gigabyte hard disc drive for storing map data for the navigation system and photos and a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port that allows for the transfer of photos onto the hard drive. You’ll even be able to view the pictures you just shot on your digital camera in your car.
With a long list of safety features and some fascinating technical details, the Sebring deserves to appeal to more people.
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