It’s hard not to like the look of the Chrysler 200. It retains some American hero-of-the-beach muscle that its big brother 300 boasts, but is closer on parade to a German sedan. On certain angles it’s reminiscent of the much-lauded Kia Optima whose mast designer is, no surprise, an Audi graduate.
But for me where the S gets it most right is beneath the hood. Unlike the other 200 models, the S holds a hearty 3.6L six-cylinder engine whose noise is attenuated by careful baffling. So you can enjoy the concert hall capabilities of the Boston Acoustic stereo while milking up to 260-lb-ft of torque.
The testing week I had it featured much early spring snow and ice, but the 200 S rode easily on Michelin Studless X-Ice 18-inch tires. Consequently it didn’t deliver maximum fuel efficiency, but that’s universal physics for you. Fortunately that engine runs on regular gasoline.
Speaking of physics, the 200 S was fairly agile and responsive in aggressive traffic. It has a slightly squat stance and low centre of gravity for decent cornering. Furthermore, the steering was finely tuned for highway speed.
Inside, you notice how the designers really got it right. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom for all, though you’re still close to the road. The mixture of leather accents in the seats—with its signature S for Steve—are comfortable and attractive. The suede on the inside door panel blends in well with, and forgives the feeling of, the plastics.
Sadly, unlike many other Chrysler and Jeep products, the 200 S doesn’t include a heated steering wheel. For a top-the-line model that breaks the $30k mark, it seemed a tad parsimonious on seven cold days—and incongruous amid all the other understated quality.
As you’d expect, the classic Chrysler clock visually anchors everything at the centre of the dashboard. A sunroof allows light to flood in (and snow if your smartass friend opens it at the wrong time; but we’re on a word-count here).
Yes, put it on your list. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to love an American car just yet, look at the warranty: 5–years or 100,000km bespeaks Chrysler’s confidence in their craftsmanship.
Base price: $29,095
As Driven with taxes and freight charge: $32,730
Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXY, Steven Bochenek is actually an advertising writer who does some journalism on the side. In 2011 he was accepted into the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His other interests include playing music, long-distance running, skiing and writing in the third person.
Photo courtesy of Chrysler.