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