FASH­ION­ABLY YOURS

CHRYSLER’S 200 RE­TURNS WITH A NEW SKIN AND HARD­WARE TO SA­TI­ATE LUX­URY- AS­PIR­ING MEM­BERS OF THE MID- SIZE CAR BUY­ERS’ CLUB

WKND - - On The Road -

DVD. This is soon go­ing to be in­dus­try prac­tice.

POW­ER­TRAIN & PER­FOR­MANCE

Chrysler is of­fer­ing cus­tomers a choice of two mo­tors. The base model gets the 2.4L Tiger­shark Mul­ti­air four- cylin­der en­gine that will take on the Ac­cord, Cam­ryan­dothers head to head with its 184bhp and com­pelling 6.5L/ 100km fuel econ­omy.

For those who love some bulge un­der the bon­net, there’s the 3.6L Pen­tas­tar V6 en­gine, which de­vel­ops 295bhp and 355Nm of max­i­mum torque to help rid you of in­er­tia. Now, the last V6 we’ve seen from the brand was a 3.5L mo­tor that didn’t do any­one any favours. This one, though, is a beast in its own right. Be it four or six cylin­ders, all cars come stan­dard with the com­pany’s nine- speed auto. Yes, nine as in “10 mi­nus 1”; we know what you’re think­ing, that’s as many gears as you have on your moun­tain bike.

The test car came spec- ed with the 3.6L V6. Af­ter goof­ing around and driv­ing with a straight face, we no­ticed that, even with mild throt­tle ap­pli­ca­tion, this en­gine puts down a mas­sive amount of torque that gets the wheels spin­ning in a frenzy. And with all that drama, it takes off from the blocks with ur­gency clock­ing the 0 to 100km/ h dash in un­der 7 sec­onds. This car is quick, there is no mis­tak­ing that! Also, the rev- happy na­ture makes it eas­ier to drive; the en­gine doesn’t feel strained.

That said, we found the nine- speed auto to be no­tice­ably slug­gish at swap­ping ra­tios on a few oc­ca­sions, di­min­ish­ing the over­all driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at times. How­ever, we were in­formed by Chrysler per­son­nel that the test car was due for a ser­vice and that may have been the rea­son. They were also quick to point out that the ser­vice ses­sion would have re­solved the other prob­lem we had, which was the brak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The power of re­tar­da­tion of­fered by the stock ven­ti­lated discs are good, but the soft brake pedal feel meant you had to plant your foot deep and firm for even a slight bite from the brakes. We reckon this is some­thing a quick run to the ser­vice cen­tre would fix.

As we drove fur­ther into the wilder­ness of the con­crete jun­gle, we found that the steer­ing has de­cent weight and the 15.2: 1 steer­ing ra­tio ( the quick­est in the class as claimed by Chrysler) wasn’t just a num­ber; turn­ing into a cor­ner was crisp and quicker than in most cars in this class. But the soft sprung sus­pen­sion de­liv­ered by the Macpher­son front struts and in­de­pen­dent mul­ti­link rear sus­pen­sion meant that there was per­ceiv­able body- roll when the laws of physics were tested at speed. The se­lectable ‘ S’ driv­ing mode ( or sports mode) spiked up the per­for­mance a bit, but keep­ing the shifter on D will suf­fice for ev­ery­day driv­ing du­ties.

FEA­TURES & FUNC­TION­AL­ITY

Like the 300 we tested ear­lier, this 200 too comes with a re­mote en­gine starter. By click­ing the but­ton on the key­fob twice, you can get the car started and the air con­di­tioner switched on. And we’d sug­gest you get that op­er­a­tional, just so you can save your­self from the scorch­ing heat that is about to be­come a re­al­ity. Tak­ing up the re­spon­si­bil­ity of keep­ing you safe on the road are a huge ar­ray of elec­tronic chap­er­ones, in­clud­ing Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol with Stop and Go func­tion­al­ity and the best op­er­at­ing Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing and As­sist we have ever seen on a car. The lat­ter cleanly nudges you into a lane if you go way­ward. Oth­ers on the list in­clude Blind Spot Mon­i­tor­ing, For­ward Col­li­sion Warn­ing with Ac­tive Brak­ing, etc. ABS and a set of airbags come as stan­dard. The 200 also comes with fancy self- park­ing tech­nol­ogy which is ap­pli­ca­ble for both garage and par­al­lel park­ing. And, in our opin­ion, it works well most times. There is still time be­fore we com­pletely hand it over to the robots! At the end of the day, the 200 is a fam­ily car and cargo space is cru­cial. The space be­hind the boot isn’t the largest in class, but still large enough, and the rear seats can be split in a 60: 40 man­ner and folded down so that large items can be hauled. With the Ucon­nect sys­tem comes Blue­tooth that is ca­pa­ble of stream­ing mu­sic, USB slots, aux­il­iary in­put and voice com­mands — which we are not com­pletely con­vinced of. In terms of en­ter­tain­ment, our test car came with an Alpine sound sys­tem ( nine speak­ers and a sub­woofer); it’s a loud unit with ap­pre­cia­ble qual­ity both up high and down low!

VERDICT

In many ways, the 2016 Chrysler 200 could be the mid- size car you have been look­ing for, if style and driv­abil­ity are of equal im­por­tance as re­li­a­bil­ity and value for money. Some may un­der­mine its re­sale value, but we think that it is some­thing the 5 years/ 100,000km war­ranty and 3 years/ 60,000km ser­vice con­tract should eas­ily off­set.

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