Our newest edition to the Gaywheels.com contributor ranks, Daniel Weil, and I had the pleasure of attending Chrysler’s media launch of the 2008 Sebring Convertible in Santa Monica, CA. While the weather was uncharacteristically wet, we were able to put the new version of the U.S.’s best-selling drop top through its paces. We sat down and chatted about one day recently.
Gaywheels.com : Hi Dan, we’re going to be talking about the new 2008
Chrysler Sebring Convertible today. We were on the same event in
not-so-sunny SoCal. What are your thoughts on the car? Did it live up to
Daniel Weil: When I first
saw the new design on the sedan, I wasn’t sure I liked the new exterior. The
new convertible wasn’t much better. However, after spending some time with it –
I began to like it.
Gaywheels.com : So, it ain’t pretty…..is that what
you are saying? I’d agree, it doesn’t come across as beautiful at first glance
but it has its virtues.
Daniel Weil: There are aspects
of the design that I like a lot, and it does have a more pleasing and elegant
look than the
However, it seems like there’s a ”bulginess"
about the design
Gaywheels.com : Anything is better looking than the Toyota Solara convertible! True, there is something
about it the design that doesn’t seem right at first but some would argue that
is the sign of a good design……yeah…..”some”….not
sure if “some” would drive this car but, OK…then…not sure where I was
going with that…….What do you think about the choice of 3 tops? Everyone likes
a choice of tops, right?
Daniel Weil: Yes, I think
that offer a choice of three tops is a great way to cover a larger segment of
the market. My guess would be that the vinyl top isn’t going to be as big a
seller as the other two options.
Gaywheels.com: Vinyl will be
the rental car version…..and the hard top will be all the rage in
Daniel Weil: Oh
behave! I like that Chrysler is using some brand differentiators in
design treatments – the headlight design, the grill, the "ribs" on
Gaywheels.com : Ahh, ribbed for her pleasu…..I
mean, yes, the "strakes"….interesting design element that sets it
Daniel Weil: Hey, it’s
unique. What did I say about behaving?
Dad….what did you think about the driving characteristics? I mean, a choice of three engines is
a good thing, right?
Daniel Weil: Totally, and
they’re good engines too. However, if you’re a driver, you’d want to opt for
the 6-speed transmission.
think? I’d say if you enjoy driving, stay away from this car
me wrong, it isn’t a bad car, but certainly not designed for a driving
Daniel Weil: Well, I don’t
expect driving enthusiasts to buy this, however even within the segment that
will – there will be those who’ll appreciate driving more than others
Gaywheels.com: Agreed. Having
come from a product planning background, I can understand who this car was made
for. Clearly not a European convertible customer.
But rather, someone who needs a comfortable 4-seat
convertible at a myriad of price points.
Daniel Weil while it
may not be an enthusiast’s car, I do believe that it handles fairly well for
the segment. I took an unexpected and abrupt right turn and the car wasn’t fazed.
Gaywheels.com : Yeah, the roads they had us on were rather
challenging…..were you able to drop the top? I had mine up the entire
time…..rain in LA, who knew?
Daniel Weil: We had our top
down most of the time
Gaywheels.com: Did you get
Daniel Weil: Nope. As long
as we were moving, we stayed dry. Speaks highly of the time Chrysler
spent on wind management with the top down.
Gaywheels.com: I liked the gadgets
like the MyGIG entertainment system, the remote top
activation and the heated and cooled cup holders
Daniel Weil: Yes, we do
like to have the top of the line options, don’t we?
Gaywheels.com: So the surveys
say! What did you
think of the interior?
Daniel Weil: I’m not sure I
liked the overly dramatic upward curve inside, but I understand the goal – to
help give an illusion of openness and a "reach to the sky" feeling. I
think they used a good mix of materials; wood, plastic, metal
Gaywheels.com: I have to
disagree on that point….some of the materials, like a lot of Chryslers
lately, are not up-to-par and the design of the interior is a little odd for my
taste…but I am not the target customer
Daniel Weil: If the quality
of the plastics were brought to a higher level, the design would work better
Sebring is all about affordable top-down driving and they’ve been the leader for quite a while.
Do you think this one will win over current Sebring owners as well as bring new
people to the brand?
Daniel Weil: I’m sure
current owners will feel like the new car is a step above the current Sebring
and will be happy with it. They may get some Toyota Solara
owners who like the available hard top (and who doesn’t?) but I am not sure
they’ll appeal to people considering the VW Eos etc.
agree on that point. The new Sebring is a nice, comfortable four-seat
convertible with a style that is a little polarizing. You think it’ll "grow" on
Daniel Weil: Hmmm…
Actually I think it probably will. There is a definite brand identity showing
through on the new Chrysler designs. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it
is all about strong brand identity right?
Gaywheels.com: So, at the end
of the day, would you recommend this to your friends and family?
Daniel Weil: If they
were looking for a daily driver, a 4-seater, usable trunk space with the top up
or down, options for unique technologies at a price that won’t break the bank,
yes, I’d tell them to consider it.
they shouldn’t be concerned about sporty driving dynamics and/or a luxury brand
name to impress others. Not too far off the current formula that has kept
the Sebring as the #1 selling convertible in the U.S for a while.
Chrysler is a gay-friendly company.
Read other Chrysler reviews by Gaywheels.com’s writers