2012 Chrysler 200 Limited
– Upscale styling
– Good cabin materials
– Fairly comfortable ride
– Could be quicker
– Not as spacious as class-leaders
– Handling could be tighter
Few people in the Middle East know what a Chrysler Sebring is. Those who do know what it is don’t hold it in high regard either, even if they’ve never actually seen one. Frankly, we’ve never seen one up close either, but in a nutshell, it was an overstylised car with unique features, let down by poor cabin materials and poorer drivetrain choices. The recently-rejuvenated Chrysler decided to revamp the Sebring before bringing out a completely new model a few years down the line. But the revamped model is so heavily updated that they’ve decided to rename it as the Chrysler 200.
The external changes that make up the 200 basically dumb down the Sebring’s controversial styling cues, offering up simpler lines all over, with its generic new front-end and upscale new rear-end. It retains its unique profile, for better or worse, so it remains the “different” choice in the midsize segment.
Inside, the changes are far more extensive, as literally every inch has been changed. There’s nice soft-touch materials on large chunks of the expansive dashboard as well as all door panels. Chrome detailing and pretty lighting pimp it up further, and the leather upholstery in our V6 Limited was nicely done. Even with a few minor niggles in the finishing, the 200 appears to be solidly built.
The Chrysler 200 looks relatively small, but is actually a properly-sized midsize sedan. And while the cabin space up front is excellent, the rear legroom is adequate but visibly less than the class leaders. All-round headroom is great, while there are enough cup-holders moulded all over to satisfy a family. The boot is huge, and it’s great that they used hydraulic trunk-lid struts to free up space, but the opening is a bit on the small side.
The gadgets are well up to the mark, thanks to the addition of the easy-to-use Chrysler multimedia touchscreen computer, which comes with workable voice controls, Bluetooth, navigation, decent CD/MP3 stereo and what not. There’s even two USB ports, one on the stereo deck and one closer to where you’d store your phone for charging. Other features in the top-spec 200 include remote start, power driver’s seat, sunroof, fog lamps, a full set of airbags, and a decent dual-zone auto a/c. There are some glaring omissions though, not least of which is the lack of rear a/c vents as well as no HID headlights.
The front-wheel-drive 200 Limited comes with Chrysler’s new “Pentastar” 3.6-litre V6, good for 283 hp at 6400 rpm and 353 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm. We couldn’t extract its full performance potential, seeing as our 1622-kilo car was hardly broken in with 80 km on the clock, as we managed a 0-100 kph run of 8.1 seconds in August weather. It seems to be tuned for fuel economy anyway, as the 6-speed automatic likes to hunt for the higher gears and managed an impressive 10.7 litres/100 km, as per the trip computer.
The drive is fine for the most part. There’s enough power to induce a bit of torque-steer, with steering that’s nicely weighted but offering little feedback. The smooth automatic can be driven in manual mode, with a slight delay in responses, while the 225/50 tyres on 18-inchers offer good grip, even while the body roll becomes prominent in fast turns, understeering predictably at the limit. The brakes are adequate, and the stability control works well.
The 200 rides fairly well, with the occasional jitter on rougher surfaces, and alternately feeling slightly floaty on uneven surfaces, although awkward rebounds are kept well at bay. There is very little road noise, while some wind noise creeps in beyond 100 kph, well within class standards.
And that last bit pretty much sums up the Chrysler 200. It does a lot of things well within class standards, not particularly excelling in any major aspect that’d make it stand out in the ultra-competitive midsize segment. Some things it does really well are the premium interior treatment, the optional multimedia system and the fuel economy. In terms of ride and handling, it can hang with the segment leaders. It doesn’t quite boast the ultimate in power delivery and rear-seat accommodations, but if you don’t regularly speed around with 7-footers in the back, the Chrysler 200 may start to interest you in more ways than just the styling.
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