Car of the Day: Chrysler Sebring (2007-09)

The Chrysler Sebring may not have lasted long here, but it was still an incredibly obscure car in the UK market.
Saloons don’t sell over here in the UK, unless they’re German (and the Toyota Avensis and Honda Accord are just about the only exceptions to this rule). Even Ford withdrew the Mondeo saloon (or sedan to our foreign readers) in mid-2009, although you can still get the Mondeo saloon in Australia, New Zealand, China and other countries.

The Sebring was derived from the Cirrus, which wasn’t ever sold over here officially, although you might have seen a few in the U.K., either brought over by US diplomats working here, or U.S. Forces stationed here.

It was a fairly distinctive, albeit blob-like car, to look at, but it was anything but distinctive to drive. It was a great motorway drive, but unsettled on uneven roads.

It wasn’t too practical either – no hatchback option, and 385-litres of boot space, (which, to be fair was decent, but not class-leading) equivalent to a Focus. Making this a half-size, really, come to think of it. No practical estate/stationwagon was offered – but the “photochop” crowd may want to make one, if they haven’t already.

Two four-cylinder engines, in 2.0-litre/157bhp and 2.4-litre/167bhp (with auto ‘box) only were available, as well as a Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre/139bhp (badged as 2.0 TDI by VW, but here, 2.0 CRD). Economy wasn’t great, but the 2.0 entry-level model was pretty fast, and the diesel offered a good, but by no means class-leading 46mpg for economy.

Only one model was available; it was badged Limited, which was appropriate enough, considering its aspirations of luxury / glamour.

It didn’t know what it wanted to be; Mondeo and Passat-rival or exclusive BMW rival with a touch of Americana?
Well, either way, it’s a rare, but incredibly interesting car nonetheless.

Buying one used makes more sense than new; you could import a nearly-new 2011 one in from the U.S. or Canada, but it’s a hell of a lot of work to do, making it compliant for the UK and all, so why bother?

The replacement, badged as Chrysler 200 (another Chrysler 180 in the making?) is basically an updated version. The name isn’t derived from engine displacement – unlike the Chrysler 180 – it’s simply a random choice of number.

However, as we’re not getting it in the UK, I can’t comment on it, but if I manage to test one I’ll get back to you.

Shame, really, as it could be a success for Chrysler if they positioned it properly.

Now the Italians are in charge of Chrysler – could this mean a new start over here?

Final fact: I have seen a Canada-spec 200 LX 2.4 sedan over here in the UK, when I was in Manchester. Even had Vancouver plates on it; interesting sighting, but shame it’ll never be sold over here officially.

Hopefully Chrysler will have a full range in the UK soon; let’s hope that the future proves better than the past, seeing as they’ve had a mix of French, American and now Italians running the show.

So, finally, would I buy a Sebring? Yes, and no, really, but in short, I’d probably have a Mondeo, common as it may be.

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