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Amid corporate degeneration and soapy executive shenanigans, DaimlerChrysler has somehow managed to keep issuing actual new products.Yes, believe it or not, they still build cars.
They’ve even introduced a new, better Chrysler Sebring Convertible to complement the still-fresh Sebring Coupe and Sedan. And if the Sebring droptop can bring to dealer showrooms even a hint of the drama Juergen Schrempp has brought to the corporation as a whole, it should be the most compelling vehicle in the history of automobiles.
However, the Sebring is probably highly appreciated within the company because it’s drama-free. The lack of controversy begins at the nose and gradually, works its way into every pore of the Sebring to a near-cellular level.
And yet, while the front-drive Sebring convertible connects with its sedan and coupe brethren with style cues like the egg crate grille and winged logo above it, it’s really a unique creation. Mechanically it shares engine and transmission with the sedan, but practically nothing at all with the Mitsubishi-built coupe of the same name. Structurally it’s more closely related to the car it supersedes than to anything else in the DaimlerChrysler inventory. In fact the roof, windshield and side glass all carryover virtually unchanged (there’s some tweaking with top fabric and drip rail design) from the Sebring convertible that was introduced for ‘96.
The 106-inch wheelbase, 60.2-inch front and rear tracks on the 2001 edition of this car are also unchanged from the ‘96-’00 iteration and that, not surprisingly, means head, leg, and hip room for all four passengers is, according to Chrysler, unchanged. However the front passengers do get an additional 1.3 inches of shoulder room and the rear seaters an extra 0.1 inches — and, really, isn’t that the most important dimension of all?
Under the skin the structure itself has been fortified with heftier lower rails, a new stamped steel front crossmember, revised sills, and a bracket inserted into the space that also contains the rear side quarter windows. The result, says Chrysler, is a structure that resists bending forces better and is generally stiffer than before.