Dan Neil - Chrysler Sebring Hardtop Convertible

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,732
    Likes Received:
    1,587
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Chrysler's '08 Sebring Convertible has a nifty roof mechanism. But things go down quickly from there.

    [​IMG]
    The Sebring Convertible is homely

    By DAN NEIL
    August 8, 2007

    To Cerberus Capital Management, the New York-based private equity firm that just bought Chrysler from DaimlerChrysler, congratulations and … what do you mean I'm being laid off? I don't even work for you guys!

    So far, the company is off to a rousing start. It was widely expected that Cerberus would name Wolfgang Bernhard, former executive for Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, to be Chrysler's chairman-CEO. Instead, over the weekend the company named Robert Nardelli, former chief executive and notorious hammer of Home Depot, who recently earned glory in the annals of executive compensation when he pocketed a $210-million severance package after being kicked out by disgruntled shareholders. Unlike Bernhard, who is a car guy to the bone, Nardelli has no experience in the auto business. A company utterly besieged by bean counters has just hired Mr. Bean.

    Now, much of this is inside-baseball stuff that probably wouldn't interest consumers: Can the famously abrasive Nardelli mend relations with Chrysler's alienated dealer network? Can he reach across the table at upcoming labor talks with anything other than a shiv? Will Nardelli, a Red State royalist who has held fundraisers at his Atlanta home for President Bush, get behind a national health care agenda that many in Detroit feel would give domestic automakers some breathing room?

    Or will Nardelli and the three-headed dog merely flip Chrysler, which is to say, cut it down to a semblance of profitability and sell it? That would be the equivalent of stealing coins off a dead man's eyes.

    Assuming that Nardelli is more than a bagman, the question then becomes: Does he know a good car from a bad one?

    I can help. I recommend he go down to the motor pool and check out the keys to a 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible, preferably the Limited model with the retractable hardtop. See, Bob, that's a bad one.

    Not just bad, but a veritable chalice of wretchedness, a rattling, thumping, lolling tragedy of a car, a summary indictment of Chrysler's recent management and its self-eradicating product planning, all cast in plastic worthy of a Chinese water pistol. The Sebring drop top does something I thought impossible: It makes me long for the exquisite craftsmanship of the Pontiac flipping G6.

    Oh, and the Sebring Convertible is homely, too.

    On a more positive note, if Nardelli wants to kick off a product renaissance at least he'll have a baseline.

    The Sebring Convertible has been a segment sales leader for more than a decade, in no small part because of the tens of thousands sold to the Budgets and Hertzes of the world. These were modest cars with modest ambitions -- mid-priced, mid-size, middlebrow convertibles that were, comparatively, well shaped, with a low and rounded body style that looked cool with the top down.

    The new-for-2008 Sebring Convertible is an open-air version of the taller, squarer Sebring sedan introduced last year. The sibling-driven proportions throw the convertible drastically out of whack. For instance, the new convertible is virtually the same length as the previous model but 3.5 inches taller, all of it coming in the strangely lax sheet metal above the belt line, or in empty space: Even with our Limited edition test car with its 18-inch wheels, the wheel arches looked cavernous. To make room for the car's choice of retractable tops (in vinyl, canvas or aluminum), the convertible is 3.2 inches longer than the sedan, and all of that length is cantilevered gracelessly over the rear wheels. From some angles the car looks like it's had unholy congress with an El Camino.

    There was some effort to add surface excitement to the car -- the strakes on the hood, à la the Crossfire and the exquisite Airflite concept car -- but these gestures are so insincere as to be insulting.

    The marketing game plan is to offer the Sebring Convertible in three trims, each with its own engine: the base model ($26,145) gets the 2.4-liter, 173-hp four-cylinder with a four-speed automatic; the Touring ($28,745) gets the 2.7-liter V6 with 189 hp, also with the four-speed; the Limited ($32,345) is powered by the company's 3.5-liter V6 with 235 hp/232 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic. The retractable hardtop is a $1,995 option on the Touring and Limited.

    Our nearly loaded Limited test car penciled out to $37,755, including one of the car's signature options, the MyGig audio system/navigation system with the 20-GB hard drive. Other options included traction and stability control, windscreen and dual exhaust. All that kit easily pushes the car over the 2-ton mark (base curb weight is a rather astonishing 3,959 pounds).

    So configured, the Sebring Convertible muddles out of its own way -- I cannot attest to the feelings of those behind me -- but attempting to drive this car in a sporting manner feels like trying to run a 440-dash with a lawn tractor on your back. The car is slow to rouse, glumly servile at highway speeds, and when you kick the accelerator to pass it's resentful to the point of gross insubordination. The piteous bleating sound coming from under the hood would bring a shepherd to tears.

    Dynamically, this is certainly one of the more inept cars on the market. The steering is frictionless and void of feedback on center, vague off-center and downright enigmatic at the limit. The steering wheel practically waltzes with torque steer if you put the power down in a corner. The Sebring Limited has reasonable road holding, thanks to its 18-inch tires, but even small bumps can induce suspension-pumping body motions that can oscillate to major whoops with little provocation and send the car off course. This is purely the result of the top mechanism's barbell weight situated high in the structure.

    But none of that is what really bugs me. What really bugs me is the harsh, juddering reverberations coming up through the chassis from the suspension. Good lord. What, were they out of bushings that day?

    The one bright spot is that the Karmann retractable hardtop mechanism works just fine (though production is being slow-walked while niggling final-fit problems are resolved). A press of a button separates the top panels and levitates them behind the rear seats. The ample trunk space is then not so ample, but Chrysler says you can get in two sets of golf clubs. Vacationers should have no trouble getting their hula girl lamps and coconut monkeys back to the airport in Honolulu.

    You might imagine Chrysler execs pulling their hair out at such a review, but I rather guess the mood is more of resignation, and recognition. They know. Under DaimlerChrysler management, Chrysler was savagely abused and cost-cut to the bone and it shows in their products' under-engineered clunkiness, their deprived plastic interiors and mail-it-in mediocrity.

    Nardelli has a conspicuous record of knowing nothing about the car business. It's a lot harder than selling Weber grills and Sawzalls, and the learning curve is more like Half Dome. Wisdom begins with knowing the difference between a good car and a bad car. The Sebring Convertible can help.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,732
    Likes Received:
    1,587
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
  3. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    293,889
    Likes Received:
    2,952
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    what a piece of shit
     
  4. Rich

    Rich New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,225
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Yeah. If it's a Chrysler and not SRT it sucks.
     
  5. IslanderOffRoad

    IslanderOffRoad Do you even lift kit? OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Messages:
    73,467
    Likes Received:
    208
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    i read "a lolling tragedy of a car" as "a lol-ing tragedy of a car"
     
  6. Dr. Zoidberg

    Dr. Zoidberg the lovable tramp

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Messages:
    120,791
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ohio
    :rofl: it's safe to say he didn't like it.

    i don't know of any chrysler products i'd consider when shopping for a car :hs:
     
  7. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    293,889
    Likes Received:
    2,952
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Aspen :bowdown: :rofl:
     
  8. Dr. Zoidberg

    Dr. Zoidberg the lovable tramp

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Messages:
    120,791
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ohio
    just this morning i priced out a bunch of new cars.. the only american car i even considered was the G6 coupe :hs: that makes me sad.
     
  9. DOBERMAN

    DOBERMAN New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Messages:
    21,338
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Hills - SoCal
    Its ok... You'll be able to buy the car for less than 20 the following year :rofl:
     
  10. TripleFive

    TripleFive Someone Sell Me A Porsche! OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2003
    Messages:
    9,720
    Likes Received:
    42
    Location:
    Carmel, IN
    "From some angles the car looks like it's had unholy congress with an El Camino."


    lolz
     
  11. Asher

    Asher With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, i

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    22,776
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    MI
    :rofl:
     
  12. LOtown

    LOtown Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2002
    Messages:
    19,677
    Likes Received:
    0
    Those are built about a half mile from my house...The lot outside the plant is always full of them...the trucks that take them to dealerships never even come close to putting a dent in it...:o
     
  13. coolchrisrm

    coolchrisrm Because if I wear it any place else, it chafes.

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2001
    Messages:
    56,380
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Why is that toy on your head?
  14. TripleFive

    TripleFive Someone Sell Me A Porsche! OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2003
    Messages:
    9,720
    Likes Received:
    42
    Location:
    Carmel, IN
  15. DOBERMAN

    DOBERMAN New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Messages:
    21,338
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Hills - SoCal
  16. bryan954

    bryan954 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    22,468
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    houston
    flipping G6
     
  17. uptownbill

    uptownbill OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    2,752
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    NYC
    37k for that. roofles
     
  18. Moistfly

    Moistfly Anal Bum Cover

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Messages:
    12,434
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Texas
    I don't know if I've read a car review with such hatred in it, ever.
     
  19. KGB ate my bread

    KGB ate my bread Made you look. OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Messages:
    97,598
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Louisiana
  20. KGB ate my bread

    KGB ate my bread Made you look. OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Messages:
    97,598
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Louisiana
  21. DOBERMAN

    DOBERMAN New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Messages:
    21,338
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Hills - SoCal
    Its fast enough to get you back to the dealership in the morning when you wake up and realize you just spent 37k on that car :rofl:
     
  22. xci.ed6

    xci.ed6 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Messages:
    4,053
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Nowhere, IA
  23. KGB ate my bread

    KGB ate my bread Made you look. OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Messages:
    97,598
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Louisiana
    :rofl:

    I looked at the interior of the one on Ebay and I don't think I could make msyelf drive that car. Looks neat on the outside, but holy shit that interior is bland.


    Sucks too, because I really liked the linse on that car. Oh well. Only coupes I'd really consider would need to have a backseat :hs:
     
  24. KGB ate my bread

    KGB ate my bread Made you look. OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Messages:
    97,598
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Louisiana
  25. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir WHM6D > *

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2007
    Messages:
    15,206
    Likes Received:
    0
    Only true hate drives a journalist to this level of imagery.
     

Share This Page