On a scale of one to 10, Chrysler gets a 10 for original thinking. Love it, hate it, or just find it a touch overwrought, the Crossfire's styling is like no other. It's the closest most will come to driving Flash Gordon's car. Even the wheels, tiny hubs at the center of great fans of spokes, look too delicate for earthly use. Drop the softtop under its double-hump tonneau, and the spotlight is yours from Bangor to Barstow. May you never tire of the stares of truckers. Unfortunately for the SRT-6, originality doesn't swing much weight in this test. We're all about the drive. With 330 horsepower underfoot and thick rubber to spread it with, the Crossfire racks up admirable numbers in testing: 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, stops from 70 mph in 160 feet, and 0.92 g on a skidpad. But somewhere between the auto-show stage and the test track, the SRT-6 spun off the road to greatness. It surely isn't the engine, which smoothly and politely hurls this art deco artillery shell up a freeway on-ramp. No, the faultfinding starts with the other hand-me-down SLK components that feel well past their sell-by date. Buckle in, and the high dashboard is the dull ghost of the old Benz with plain, straight lines and a spartan feel to its pebble-grain plastic. Thumb wheels with little blue and red dots serve as the vague temperature settings. How many dots do you need for 72 degrees? We never found out. Mismatched panel gaps around an ill-fitting glove-box door don't inspire smiles. The nav system -- incorporated into the stereo and functional once you get familiar -- nevertheless feels like an improvised retrofit. Comfort remains elusive since the steering wheel doesn't tilt and the seats can't travel back far enough for average inseams. Were people shorter back in 1997 when the SLK was new? Top down and under way, the Crossfire's cabin gets more wind lash than the others, owing in part to a low windshield. Freeway speeds elicit a tedious thrum from the tires and exhaust. Where the road curves, the Crossfire, despite the blurriest steering of the group, develops impressive cornering speeds with glued-down grip from the Michelins. Left in drive, the five-speed automatic adapts quickly to fast driving and holds gears through short straights and long sweepers. Slap it sideways for "manual" shifting, and the transmission gets befuddled. It never goes fully manual. Downshifts can be slow, upshifts spontaneous when the computer feels left out. The Crossfire's small oversights could be overlooked if you hanker for its winged-messenger styling. Even the trunk, a minuscule mail slot with the top down, becomes more usable once the top rises and a partition folds away. In the end, it's the SRT-6's ride that really torpedoes this torpedo. It's stiff -- so much so that words you utter while driving often take on a dozen extra syllables. It positively hopscotches down a California sectioned-concrete freeway, the structure shaking in its rafters, a $50,000 paint mixer.