First drive: 2012 Chrysler 200 in the UAE

First drive: 2012 Chrysler 200 in the UAE

For some reason, the Chrysler Sebring was considered a disaster in terms of design and sales. Held up by fleet sales in its U.S. home market, generally a sign that a car sucks, as well as being cancelled for sale here before its time, we actually quite liked the design that debuted in 2007. It might have been too weird for some, but we celebrate uniqueness and creativity, even if the car lacked in packaging compared to its mainstream rivals. However, the Sebring is back with a new face and a new badge, with Chrysler having enough confidence to bring it back again. This is the 2012 Chrysler 200.

The Chrysler 200 is apparently a sell-out success in the States, which is why it took more than a year to come to the GCC, but externally, it is largely a Sebring body with fresh front and rear ends tacked on to give it an upscale appearance. Depending on angle, the front looks like either a Chrysler 300C or a Kia Cadenza, while the rear is pure Jaguar XF. It is nearly impossible to tell the versions apart, but the 2.4-litre variant gets a single exhaust outlet, while the 3.6-litre V6 gets dual exhaust tips out back.

The inside is outstanding in terms of interior materials. The upper dash and all upper door sills are soft-touch materials, with cushy padded door inserts covering most of the door panels till the padded armrests. That itself lifts it to a class above the Toyota Camry, at least in our perception, even if the 200 is actually cheaper.

The dash layout is clean and uncluttered, unlike the button-jungle in the Honda Accord. Even actual cabin space is reasonable, with good headroom and legroom in the back for normal-sized people. However, the usual Japanese stalwarts offer a fair bit more rear legroom than this Chrysler through better packaging. Ironically, the Sebring looks small, but is actually slightly longer than the Toyota Camry. There are no rear a/c vents either.

At the launch event, we started our drive from Dubai to Hatta in a 173 hp 2.4-litre version. Maybe it was a fresh car with an engine that hadn’t been broken in yet, but the engine didn’t feel particularly powerful, needing to be revved hard to get up to speed or even to overtake. Our casual 0-100 kph estimation is about 10 seconds, aided by a smooth 6-speed automatic. Even then, cars like the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima are likely to be quicker.

On the way back from Hatta after lunch, we got to drive the top-spec 283 hp 3.6-litre “Pentastar” V6 version. The juice finally felt more than adequate, but it isn’t a rocket by any means. The power builds up gradually, and we’d estimate a 0-100 kph time of a little more than 7 seconds, in line with other V6-powered cars in its class. The V6 also sounds a bit better than the 4-cylinder, but neither offer muscular exhaust notes in particular.

The ride is mildly jittery but largely smooth, while wind noise is kept at bay reasonably well at speed. We’d peg the ride comfort level at about the same as the Toyota Camry, although the a/c isn’t as strong.

Handling is acceptable for the kind of consumers the 200 is targeting. It feels a wee bit floaty on some surfaces and corners, but body roll never goes beyond moderate levels and there are no suspension rebounds once a corner is over. Stability is not an issue at 190 kph either, as we found out. Grip from the 215-width tyres is good enough, offering up easy understeer at the not-so-high limits. The steering appropriately lacks feedback, but the brake pedal offers good feel and linear stopping power.

The Chrysler 200 isn’t a ground-breaking car by any means, but at its price, it makes for an interesting alternative to the usual suspects. It lacks a few features, but if you don’t intend to carry 7-feet-tall passengers in the back on a regular basis, the premium ambience it offers from the driver’s seat may be worth it.

What do you think?



  1. For a while i thought this is a KIA Cadenza

  2. Whats the Price??

  3. Stunning rear end…

  4. There are no rear A/C vents -___-

    how does Chrysler think this car is going to work with a target customer of a mid-sized family with no rear a/c vents?


    Wont even work as a cabbie here then.

    • Well I’ve had one here in the States for the Past year and it cools down the whole car with just the vents in the front pretty quickly esp if your living in Houston..

    • tell me when did you first start seeing rear vents in a mid-size car??

    • @hellboy

      i’ve been seeing rear a/c vents in cars since 2005 or 2006 something,if that answers
      and today all 2.5L cars have rear a/c vents,because its the GCC and cars dont work without it.

    • far as i know, cars used to work well in the GCC without the rear vents..even the Honda Accord, until it got a facelift in 2011 and started rolling out from an American plant lately.

      However, the question here is how well the American A/C performs regardless of rear vents. In most Jap cars, rear vents are more of a fashion statement than requirement, coz the a/c is damn good n strong anyway. Hope Chrysler has done their homework right!

  5. Crap American car

  6. I’m interested more in the 300 C in the back of that photo

  7. ohh and for the car…while the back looks nice and side profiles look fine (just fine!), the front is a let-down..its bland and lacks the presence of, lets say, a Maxima, an Accord or even the Kia Optima.

  8. American cars are not crap…my opinion is that they are good for the price you pay

  9. The Chrysler 200 shows vast improvement from her predecessor Sebring,yet barely average.
    The Sebring was a crap,in my notion. Her build quality was below par,a lot of examples were recalled.
    As for performance,the 2.4-litres GEMA four shows only acceptable performance,either previous 4-speed auto(of Sebring) and newest 8-speed one,posting 0-400m in “at best” 16.5-17sec bracket. Along with it,noise level and fuel consumption are behind Camrys and Accords in my impression.
    Such situation should be improved,with the next Chrysler 200-series using the excellent Dodge Dart platform(Alfa Romeo-origined),we do expect!!

  10. The best american car for the price. The V6 3.6 with 283hp the best combination and the A/c works well in the GCC even though no vent in rear…. Happy to hold the brand and stand out of small Japaneses models…. there i no car that quite when it move more than 120km speed…….Goood….

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