Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
Am I the only one who thinks the back of this car looks like an old 2006 Aston Martin Vanquish? Even the Chrysler badge from afar nebulously resembles the winged British logo. It is no question that the merger of Fiat and Chrysler has been beneficial for both automakers, but it seems like the former gave the latter a monumental lesson in design language. The result is stunning. Just look at the new 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan - it's hard to believe that this vehicle was born and raised in Michigan.
Sure, the name "200" is nothing new and from some angles it does look like the old Sebring, but the improved Euro-inspired front fascia makes it look refreshing and modern. The stance is low and sleek, further accentuated by the concept-car side mirrors and sloping roofline. Friends have even told me that the 200 reminded them of a UFO. It's coupe-like profile is easy on the eyes and in my opinion, much more attractive than any other mid-sized family sedan on the market, and there's a whole lot of those - Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, and Nissan Altima just to name a few. Parked next to the aforementioned list, it's pleasing to see how far this American car has come in the past few years. Chrysler wanted to make sure the 200 stood out from the crowd and in that regard, mission accomplished.
Chrysler didn't forget about the interior either. Every surface looks enriched and given the utmost attention, everything from the handsome wood accents to the two-tone dashboard. The contrasting black and white steering wheel was my favourite addition. It makes the 200 look incredibly more upscale than its Japanese counterparts, sitting up there with the German elite. And you got to remember that the 200 starts at a bargainable $19,495 too.
The seats are comfy, the materials are soft, and there's a myriad of storage compartments to place your belongings. The center stack is also arranged in a very intuitive manner. Loonie-sized hard buttons surround a Jaguar-like rotary dial and the floating design actually pushes the controls closer to the driver, making it easier to reach. A very Volvo-esque storage compartment is also found behind it, an area where you'll find a sneaky Easter Egg from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: it's a picture of the Detroit skyline embossed onto the tray mat. Neat.
But one of my main gripes with the 200 interior is the lack of headroom. For the sake of the sloping roofline that gives the 200 a coupe-like appeal, it chops off any room for me to stretch my neck. The seats don't lower to the ground very much either - spiky haired fellas worried about messing up your updo, look elsewhere. Same goes for the rear too. Legroom is average but the headroom is atrocious when compared with the Accord or Camry.
The paddle shifters take some getting used to. See how they look like a little puppet sticking their head above the wheel? Yeah well they actually have no legs. The lower half of the paddle has been molded into audio controls - left controls track and right controls volume. I don't like it. It means with my normal 9-3 o'clock grip, only my index finger can reach the paddles to change gears.
Other exterior and interior accents depend on the four available trims for the 200. At the bottom of the fiscal ladder is the base $19,495 200 LX. Next up is the luxury-oriented $22,695 200 Limited with chrome accents, heated seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The $24,695 200S gets rid of the flashy chrome for a darker and sportier theme, while the premium $25,695 200C wraps off the top of the food chain.
The Chrysler 200's powertrain has been quite a surprise to us, in ways both good and bad. There are two engines to be had; the familiar 2.4-litre Tigershark I-4 that produces 184 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 that delivers 295 hp and 262 lb-ft, the latter of which is equipped on our tester.
The good news first then. The V6 costs an extra $2000, but it's worth every penny. That engine has got to be one of my favourite naturally aspirated V6s. The exhaust noise will do all the talking for you. It's loud, deep, and unfiltered. Coincidentally (or not), it roughly sounds like the Maserati Ghibli's V6 exhaust, and that alone is something worth noting. Shift the rotary dial into Sport mode, let the revs build up and the 200 covers ground at a disarming pace - it actually feels faster than the numbers suggest.
All-wheel drive is available exclusively with the V6 engine and costs an extra $2500 on top of it. The 200 felt extremely capable on the snow and the AWD system worked well in conjunction with the power output to keep the wheels firmly planted. The 200 also uses a nifty feature called rear-axle disconnect. Implied by the name, power can be disconnected from the rear wheels and directed solely to the front wheels for maximum fuel efficiency. And speaking of fuel, we achieved an average of 12.1 L/100km with a heavier bias towards city driving. Not bad for a V6, especially with the way we were driving.
Onto the bad news, the 9-speed automatic gearbox. It's a new addition to the Chrysler lineup and is actually the first in its class to use nine cogs, but it has been quite a letdown over the past week. The shifts are slow, it wastes time hunting for gears and the transition between them is lurchy and unrefined. It's unfortunate because the 200 feels like a Detroit masterpiece held back by its weakest link. Under light driving it's hard to notice the faults in the gearbox. It's when you demand more from the powertrain that the 9-speed feels like it could be so much more. In my mind, the pompous exhaust makes up for it. Never mind the laggy downshifts and amputated paddle shifters. How often do Chrysler 200 drivers manually row their gears anyways?
Chrysler's new mid-size sedan is entering a market as crowded and congested as the streets of Los Angeles. Each competitor offers unbeatable value but I believe Chrysler has found a winning formula. Striking good looks, a musical engine and a European charm - the 200 is quite the surprise in and out. I just hope they can fix up the gearbox and smoothen out the harshness in the software. A little more headroom wouldn't hurt either. Fix that, and it's got my vote. Nevertheless, Chrysler has finally made a good-looking mid-size sedan, one that will hopefully never see the inside of a Thrifty or Enterprise.
型号 Model: 2015 Chrysler 200C AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Velvet Red Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $32,495
試車售價 Price as Tested: $38,995
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,742
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,885 / 1,841 / 1,491
車重 Curb Weight (kg): 1,643
引擎 Engine: 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 295 hp
最高扭力 Torque: 262 lb-ft
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 12.8 / 8.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Cross 255/40 R19