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Chrysler pitches its first medium sedan in 30 years directly at Camry, Mazda6 and co

14 May 2007

THE Australian dollar is up, the US currency is down, and so Chrysler is stepping up to the pitch with a very highly specified mid-sized sedan that is as bold on value as it is on styling. The company is hoping that consumers will draw the same sort of desirability parallels with the new Sebring as they do with the popular 300C large sedan range, although it remains realistic when the competition is as fierce as the Toyota Camry, Mazda6 and upcoming Ford Mondeo.
Model release date: 1 June 2007 to 1 June 2010

Previous model

Chrysler KB/KC Centura

Released: April 1975
Ended: June 1978
Family Tree: Sebring

Since the Chrysler Sigma was actually a Mitsubishi design, we must go further back, to the hapless Centura, to track the company’s last true medium offering in Australia. The Centura was conceived in England during the latter 1960s to be a Humber, before the Roots Group was taken over by the Chrysler Corporation, which then shifted the rear-wheel drive mid-sized sedan’s development to its other European acquisition, Simca. The French aimed to take on Ford’s MkIII (TC) Cortina with this car, called the 180, with Chrysler Australia also following suit. The resulting Centura had plenty of local content, including 3.7 and 4.0-litre Hemi in-line six-cylinder engines (tied to three-speed manual and three-speed auto gearboxes) to complement the French 2.0-litre four versions. But industrial strife stranded the completely knocked down body parts imported from France on Australia’s docks for two years, delaying the Centura’s local launch until 1975. By then, the design was dated (particularly inside), and Chrysler could not price the Centura cheap enough to take on the high-flying Japanese competition, led by the top-selling Datsun 180B. The market ignored it, so Chrysler Australia turned to the Sigma for salvation, and the Centura faded into obscurity.

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