While crossover SUVs have become the cash-cow darlings for automotive manufacturers, the importance of a C-segment sedan cannot be ignored. Every carmaker worth its salt still has a solid offering in the mid-size sedan segment. These are cars that offer state-of-the-art safety, post impressive fuel efficiency figures and deliver performance that would make your father’s muscle car blush, despite often sharing resources with those trendy sport-utes.
Last year FCA presented the all-new midsize Chrysler 200 as their best-foot forward in the segment. It’s a great looking car, sleek and aggressive in profile, and taking a lot of what’s positive about the attractive little Dodge Dart and maturing it. Plus, this being an “S” model and optioned up with a Mopar exterior body kit, our Granite Crystal Metallic 200 tester is about as handsome as they come in this class.
Given that the 200 is spawned from the sassy Italian Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the appealing appearance shouldn’t be a surprise. It might also suggest that this sportiest of 200s is a snappy performer too, and in some regards, it is.
With all-wheel-drive and Chrysler’s celebrated Pentastar 3.6L V6, this mid-size sedan is in rarefied company. Subaru’s Legacy 3.6R offers both a six-cylinder and all-wheel-drive like the 200S, but falls a bit short on the fashion-forward styling. Ford’s Fusion can be had with all-wheel-drive too, but only with a turbo four-cylinder. Accord, Camry and Sonata are all front-wheel-drive-only, and none of them (including the Subaru and Ford) deliver as much power as the Chrysler’s 295 equines.
The Pentastar sounds pretty good with a snarly exhaust note (though not overly loud) when prodded. Power delivery is smooth and mid-range grunt is abundant, but around town, the throttle tip-in can be a little abrupt.
Past experience with FCA’s nine-speed transmission clearly illustrated that nine is simply too many. And while we still hold the opinion that ninth gear is overkill here (even at 120 km/h, the engine turns fewer than 2,000 revs in eighth gear), updates to the programming this year mean the transmission no longer seems to be in a constant state of confusion over which gear is needed. Unless you’re travelling at speeds well above the legal limit anywhere in Canada, you’ll rarely see top gear in the 200S. And when you do, if some quick acceleration is requested, a big, multi-cog downshift is required to get any real motivation. Shifts are not exactly sporting in feel either, rather softly rolling from gear to gear, rather than snapping them off.
On autoTRADER.ca: 2015 Chrysler 200C AWD vs 2015 Subaru Legacy AWD Limited
With predominantly highway driving, we saw an average fuel consumption rate of 8.3 L/100 km over more than 1,000 km with the 200S. Natural Resources Canada figures the 200S AWD at an average of 12.8 L/100 km city, 8.1 highway and 10.7 combined, so our figure in the low-8s is spot on.