— Lee Teschler

From the rear, the two-seater looks a bit like the old Prowler. It competes against the Nissan 350Z and Audi TT. So one might expect the Crossfire to have the same kind of slightly harsh ride as the Z with the style of the TT.

Not quite.

The Crossfire's ride is surprisingly supple, with no hint of the harshness that usually comes with short-wheelbase sports cars. The roadster is built on a Mercedes SLK platform, and it shows most perceptibly in its Mercedes-like handling of potholes and rough roads.

Crossfire body styling speaks for itself. Low-profile tires combined with the 18-in. front, 19-in. rear wheels enhance the car's look. Style concepts extend into the passenger compartment, where gages are trimmed with silver and have a contemporary feel. But the interior has more going for it than just its classy appearance. It is quiet and surprisingly roomy. Taller passengers had no problem with headroom. The seats are wide with side bolsters and are comfortable enough even for long trips. And my big feet had room to maneuver the foot pedals for climbing through the gears of the car's six-speed manual transmission.

It's a relatively simple matter to lower the cloth top. Turn a release latch and then let an electric motor do the rest in about 22 sec. The top stores under a hard shell cover, but takes up trunk space. So on sunny days with the wind in your hair, there's room for a few bags of groceries and not much else.

Other reviewers have griped about the car's lack of low-end torque. That's only an issue if you are disappointed in a car that lacks the head-snapping acceleration of a dragster. The Crossfire can accelerate into traffic smoothly and has plenty of zip at highway speeds, thanks to its 3.2-liter V6 that produces 215 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-to-60 time is rated at 6.8 sec. (If you really want more oomph, there's a supercharged SRT version that boosts horsepower and torque to 330 and 310, respectively.) Interestingly, the Crossfire doesn't have the throaty exhaust note of a muscle car. But in any case, you won't be thumbing your nose at OPEC with this car. The Crossfire gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.

The car gives a lot of visibility out the sides with a relatively small blind spot. Our only real concern was narrow-slit visibility in the rearview mirror when the top is up.

Base models carry dual-zone climate control, discs with ABS, and traction and stability control. The Limited model we tried hosts an eight-speaker, 240-W stereo, power-adjustable leather seats with heaters, a tire-pressure display, and more passenger compartment trim than the base model. Options consisted of a special GPS nav system ($1,200), a two-tone interior ($250), and special paint job ($150) which, combined with the destination charge, brought the price tag to $40,520. That's a lot less than the price of many other stylish roadsters for a car that delivers a fun drive.