August 14, 2005

●Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 vs Nissan 350Z 35th Anniversary Edition

Got a chance to snap away at these two coupe's while at Adria Raceway. On paper they appear as decent rivals even if the Chrysler does have the upper hand on engine output with 335PS compared to the Nissan's 300. However out on the black stuff these two couldn't be more different. As you would probably have guessed the Crossfire, being an american car build of the previous generation Mercedes Benz SLK platform, is not exactly the sharpest of the two. Things certainly don't get any better when you consider that the SRT6 is 11,000 Euro more than the 350Z and is only available with a lazy slush box.

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The blown 3.2 L V6 certainly gives the SRT6 decent performance levels and is quicker to 100km/h by .8 sec over the Z (5 sec vs 5.8sec) but thats just about all it's good for. The Z's 3.5L V6, even if not the most impressive engine Nissan has built, is silky smooth throughout the rev range and pulls evenly from as low as 1000 rpm. Now with a slight power increase (used to develop 280PS) things get even better. Add the crisp and snappy 6-speed box and the Z really sets itself apart from the US offering.

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Step inside the Crossifire and you can't help but feel a bit queasy. This is all thanks to probably the nastiest center console ever fitted to a car's dash. Horrible to look at and not much better to use it looks like it's been finished in a silvery matte color from an aerosol can. Pretty much everything else in the Chrysler looks like it's been put together on a tight budget and it certainly does not look like a 50,000+ Euro car's interior. The Z is slightly better in this department. Design and ergonomics are without a doubt in another world, it looks modern, sporty and is great to use but some of the materials really need to be addressed. Like the plastic on the transmission tunnel, hard like a rock and extremely easy to scratch. Then there are the switches for the seat warmers which you turn on with your elbow at every gearchange. Smart move there! But at least it feels solid, something that can't be said for the Crossfire.

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Out on track they are both pretty quick but the driving experience the Z gives is rawer, more precise, like a front engined rear wheel drive coupe should. You spend most of the time with the Crossfire cursing at the traction control which is programmed to cut power at just the right second you begin to have decent fun! The 350Z is a true driver's car with a great chassis and dynamics only real negative aspect has to be the 1500 plus Kgs it has to haul. Where does all that mass come from nobody knows!

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Posted by dino at August 14, 2005 06:03 PM
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