Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.) — Walt Whitman, “Song Of Myself”
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds… With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”
“Overall, the Sebring is a very comfortable vehicle… On the road, the Sebring convertible is fun to drive… Even with the hardtop closed, the Sebring remains sharp… the Sebring convertible is definitely worth a spin… This stylish convertible offers an excellent combination of amenities, solid performance and that gorgeous disappearing top.” — Scott Burgess, on the Chrysler Sebring
“It’s vastly improved, but that’s only because it was so horrendous before.” — Scott Burgess, on the Chrysler 200
When Scott Burgess resigned from the Detroit News over that paper’s ex post facto editing of his Chrysler 200 review, Jalopnik and many other sites couldn’t wait to hail the man as a veritable hero of journalism, a lone wolf defiantly standing alone against a shadowy coalition of evil manufacturers, greedy dealers, and weak-willed publications. I wasn’t so sure about the whole thing. Surely the amiable junketeer who wrote “The Volt may be Mr. Right for the future, but the Cruze is Mr. Right Now” hadn’t really been that horrified by the 200, which is a perfectly reasonable mid-sized car and not in any way the apocalyptic, symptomatic, prophylactic hell-hound described in the original DetNews draft.
So, I did what nobody else was willing to do: I found Scott’s review of the Chrysler Sebring. Sit down, crank up Rebecca Black’s horrifying, Sebring-centric song “Friday”, and let’s ride our drop-top time machine back to April 4, 2007…
…when Scott cranked out a review of the new-for-2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible. You can check it out here if you want the full text, but don’t click yet, because we’ll cover all the fun stuff below.
In just a few carefully chosen sentences, Scott deftly evokes the sheer, unparalleled joy that awaits Midwesterners on an all-expenses-paid, five-star press trip to the West Coast:
Convertibles and coastlines belong together.
The gentle smell of salt in the wind as a thin orange-red line grows along the horizon, slowly swallowing the sun. Who wants a roof obstructing that view?
The only thing missing from my 2008 Sebring convertible test drive along Southern California’s legendary Pacific Coast Highway was Rush’s cruising classic “Red Barchetta” blasting through the stereo.
Oh, oh, it’s magic!
As the younger, more attractive sibling of the redesigned Chrysler Sebring sedan, the Sebring convertible is definitely worth a spin, especially on a sunny day. This stylish convertible offers an excellent combination of amenities, solid performance and that gorgeous disappearing top in three forms: vinyl, cloth or a three-piece hard top.
Gorgeous. Let’s hear from Scott on the Sebring’s successor, the 200:
Chrysler, of course, had to do something with the Sebring, and every change on this car is a marked improvement. It rides better, looks better and just feels better than the outgoing rib-hooded Sebring.
Really! It just feels better than a car with all of the qualities listed above! I bet it kicks a veritable ton of ass…
In fact, the Chrysler 200 makes me angry… Regrettably, the 200 is still a dog.
Hmm… Maybe we’re missing something. Back to that Sebring review…
While testing the Sebring convertible, I was able to close the top during a red light — the car requires the driver to place it in park to close or open. As the ding, ding, dingsounded, notifying me the roof was in place, I shifted into drive and finished waiting for the light to turn green. Onlookers sat quietly awarding my colleague and me cool points.
Cool points! Is the 200 even cooler?
I get mad as hell when anyone pumps out a car that forces me to recommend the Toyota Camry over it.
The Camry must be the coolest car ever made! Scott, how cool is the Camry? Tell us, using a creative phrase from your latest Camry review.
And maybe, after a week in the Camry hybrid, I just might find myself feeling a little more agreenable.
Uh… never mind. Anyway, Scott, how’s that Sebring interior?
Convertibles offer an interesting twist when examining their interiors. You have to see the interior when the top’s up and when it’s down. In both instances, the Sebring passes admirably.
While I prefer darker interiors over trendy lighter ones — mostly due to coffee-dribbling cups — I think the optional light leather interior serves the Sebring well… As for me, I’d opt for the Yes Essential fabric seats. Overall, the Sebring is a very comfortable vehicle. Even the seat belts add a touch of sophistication.
I’m convinced. This is a great interior. Let’s hope Chrysler didn’t mess it up for the 200:
Of course, tortoise shell would look nice in the much improved interior. Chrysler overhauled this area, changing out the dash and refining most touch points, which are much softer now. The seats are upgraded, the instrument panel looks much nicer and the craftsmanship is noticeably improved – none of the pieces snapped off or cut me.
I’m sorry you got hurt on the Sebring press trip by sharp dashboard pieces, Scott. Why didn’t you mention that in your last review? Anyway, it sounds like this car is really ready to compete against the best, since it’s “noticeably improved” over an interior which “passes admirably” with a “touch of sophistication”. What say you, Scotty?
It’s vastly improved, but that’s only because it was so horrendous before.
I’m so confused. Let’s get back on solid ground with some comments from noted non-racer Scott Burgess on the Sebring’s handling:
On the road, the Sebring convertible is fun to drive.
The road feels firm and the steering is responsive. The stiff body takes the tightest corners with only little body roll.
Good deal. Is the 200 better?
Perhaps the biggest interior improvement is the car’s ride. Chrysler overhauled the suspension to smooth out the ride and provide better handling at every level of driving. Even the steering feels less numb.
No word on the amount of body roll when attacking the tightest corners, but this still sounds like a great car.
It performs better when compared to itself, but doesn’t perform as well as any of its competition. That’s a losing proposition… The only thing this 200 proves is that good enough is never going to be good enough.
Since Scott’s managed to get through both reviews without a single direct qualitative or quantitative comparison to any other car ever made, the reader can be forgiven for the abrupt nature of this. It’s kind of like the end of an M. Night Shamalamadingdong movie.
Honestly, I’m more confused at the end of this comparison of tests (as opposed to a comparison test, if you know what I mean) than I was when I began. If the Sebring was a spiffy car, and the 200 is improved in many ways, and the competition hasn’t exactly made the jump to hyperspace in the meantime, what’s Burgess going all psycho-killer about? You’ve read my previous theories, but there’s no substitute for a solid investigation. Scott appeared on John “Shiny Paint” McElroy’s Autoline AfterHours, but surely no one in their right mind has enough time to listen to that pompous windbag endlessly perorate about utter nonsense in-between solemn-voiced deliveries of paid advertising messages. I think Mr. Burgess should agree to be interviewed by yours truly, live, for the amusement of TTAC’s readers. We opened with the American philosophers, we’ll close with the English poet.
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
Yet let me flap this Bug with gilded wings,
This painted Child of Dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose Buzz the Witty and the Fair annoys,
Yet Wit ne’er tastes, and Beauty ne’er enjoys — Alexander Pope, “A Letter To My Quack Buddy, Or Something Like That”
I don’t always have to be able to hold in-depth conversations with the person sitting next to me. — Scott Burgess, reviewing the Dodge Nitro.