Auto review by Veeno Dewan

The open top version of the previous Chrysler Sebring was probably one of the most popular convertibles in North America judging from the amount you see on the roads. And it seems Chrysler is aiming to keep that crown with the redesigned 2012 200 Convertible. Key changes since the revamp in 2011 include a smoother, sleeker profile with a more refined, upscale look and a much-improved interior.

The 2012 Chrysler 200 Convertible lineup comprises of four trim levels: the base LX ($30,095) with a power cloth top and as standard 173-hp 2.4L four-cylinder engine with a four- speed automatic or optional ($695) six-speed automatic. The 200 Touring ($36,695) features a standard 283-hp 3.6L V6 and six-speed automatic transmission and adds automatic climate control, heated power seats, Sirius Satellite radio, and other goodies. The Limited edition ($38,695) has the V6 engine and builds on the Touring spec list with full leather seats, 18-inch polished alloy wheels, dual exhausts, and UConnect voice command and Bluetooth audio.

The new for 2012 top dog 200 S model ($39,695), adds special edition polished alloys wheels, unique black grille and headlight surrounds, leather/suede seats with embossed ‘S’ logos in the seatbacks, and a premium Boston Acoustics audio system with 40-GB hard drive for music and other media.

A black power folding cloth convertible top is standard on all Chrysler 200 trim levels, but the Limited and S models are available with an optional ($2,600) body-colored power- operated steel retractable hardtop, as on our tester; a 2012 200 S with the optional retractable steel hardtop finished in a very nice “Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat” paint. The 200 S’ interior and instrument panel is well executed with a nice combination of chrome, silver plastic, and piano black trim. The S package also adds felt door inserts, a decorative analogue clock and a perforated leather– wrapped steering wheel that tilts and telescopes and features controls for telephone, audio, and cruise control.

The comfortable, attractive stitched leather seats are finished with soft, suede inserts. For our cold Canadian winters both front seats have heaters with two temperature settings.
Entertainment wise our ‘S’ tester had; the premium Media Centre ‘730N’ CD/DVD/MP3/HDD audio system with 6.5- inch touch- screen, navigation, UConnect, Bluetooth audio, USB port, and 40-GB hard drives for media and music.

The body-colored steel-retracting top has a rear glass window with defroster and is a cinch to lower and raise with the press a button on the centre console. The top lowers in about 25
seconds. Using the remote key fob feature, you can even lower the top from outside the car. With the top up, there is 370 L of rear trunk space. With the top lowered, there is an extra 186 L of space.

Although the front cabin is roomy enough, the rear compartment is a little less spacious in the legroom department but two adults can still fit with adequate shoulder and elbow room. Like most convertibles there are only two rear seat belts not two. However on the plus side there’s plenty of rear headroom even with the top up.

On the road you can already see the advantages of the Steel retractable hardtop over a soft top. Road and traffic noise is muted and in winter the cabin heats up quicker and stays warmer. Let us not forget the added security a hard top offers also.

Despite its sporty looks the added weight of the hard top mechanics and the hefty body structure needed in a convertible means the 200 is no road scorcher. However it does fairly decent performance. What is impressive is how quiet and comfortable the 200 are. Even driving at speed on the highway with the top down, wind noise and buffeting is minimal.

The 283-hp 3.6L V6 engine is highly recommended over the base four-cylinder engine offering enough torque to power the heavy car around and proved to be smooth and refined. The six-speed automatic transmission alos proved to be a competent well-sorted unit offering smooth, glitch free shifts. Fuel economy is surprisingly good for a V 6 engine and I averaged around 6.7 L/ 100 km combined. Also note that the V6 drinks more affordable (relatively!) Regular grade gasoline.

The steering is firm and direct and in and around town the 200 is confident and spirited although rear visibility can be a problem. One strange omission is that neither a rear- view camera nor rear parking sensors are available in the 200 convertible.

To sum up the Chrysler 200 hard top convertible remains an extremely good car to drive and own if you like Al-Fresco motoring year round. In my opinion the steel hardtop equipped model is the one to get as it offers better security, protection and snugness. The 200 has also come a long way in term of refinement and quality and surely has to rank as one of the better buys in this class and is very affordable. You will not find anything offering this specification at this price, which can seat four adults and so has to be seriously considered.

Highly recommended for convertible fans everywhere.