PALM SPRINGS, CA – Chrysler Group is considering the addition of a fourth engine option for its European-version Sebring midsize sedan that debuts there next year.

Production of the Sebring, the debut vehicle for Chrysler’s new D-segment platform, launches Sept. 28, but models will not arrive in European showrooms until first-quarter 2007.

The ’07 Sebring for Europe will feature a choice of three 4-cyl. engines. They include a 2.0L diesel and 2.0L and 2.4L gasoline-powered mills from Chrysler’s World Engine family, designed and built in partnership with Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

That leaves European consumers without a 6-cyl. offering, of which there are two in North America: a 2.7L V-6 and a 3.5L V-6. However, Ward’s is told the smaller of these two, which also features ethanol flex-fuel capability, is under consideration for a future rollout.

“Those plans are pending,” says Dennis Krozek, chief engineer.

Meanwhile, the ’07 Sebring is the first Chrysler-brand car to comply with Europe’s pedestrian-impact legislation, which requires a vehicle’s front end be designed to cushion pedestrians from the effects of a collision.

Chrysler engineers had to create space between the vehicle’s hood and front fenders and the hard points on its underbody. But care was needed to preserve the car’s sleek profile. “So it was quite a challenge,” Krozek says.

Chrysler’s solution was to support the hood with a series of brackets designed to collapse on impact. No additional costs were incurred because compliance was built into the original design, Krozek says. The model distributed in North America has the same capability, he adds.

Sebring’s hood already generates attention because of its fluted design, a feature first shown on the Airflite concept car.

emayne@wardsauto.com