LOUISVILLE, KY – The all-new ’15 Chrysler 200 midsize sedan represents more than just an evolutionary change from the outgoing model. In fact, it’s a wonder the automaker retained the 200 name, as this vehicle has little in common with its predecessor.

The outgoing model was widely panned as an unworthy contender in the ultra-competitive midsize sedan segment, although the car wasn’t as nearly as bad as some made it out to be.

But Chrysler took the criticisms to heart and set out to design a truly competitive model starting from scratch.

The automaker’s CUS-wide platform underpins the new 200, which is a good start considering the architecture also serves as the basis for the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Chrysler says the new body structure, which includes laser-brazed roof welds, increases torsional stiffness, giving the car sporty European handling dynamics unlike other entries in the segment.

The ’15 200 comes with either a 3.6L Pentastar V-6 making 295 hp and 262 lb.-ft. (355 Nm) of torque or a 2.4L MultiAir2 inline 4-cyl. mill producing 184 hp and 173 lb.-ft. (235 Nm) of torque. Both are mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, the only midsize sedan to offer such a gearbox.

Both mills, combined with the car’s stiff suspension, provide for spirited driving on some surprisingly twisty roads here, some of which would induce nail-biting in some cars.

While the 200 lends itself to more aggressive handling than others in the segment, the taut suspension and ultra-precise steering may not appeal to all midsize sedan consumers, many of whom prefer a cushier ride with less feedback from the road.

Of the two engines, the 3.6L by far is the most impressive, but may be a bit of overkill. While exhilarating to drive, especially when accelerating out of a hard corner, most customers won’t need this much power, especially if fuel economy is a main shopping consideration.

The 200 equipped with the 2.4L engine achieves a fuel economy rating of 23/36 mpg (10.2-6.5 L/100 km) city/highway, while the V-6 is rated at 19/32 mpg (12.3-7.3 L/100 km).

It’s not a huge difference, but when combined with an upcharge ranging from $2,795 to $4,295 for the V-6, depending on trim level, the 2.4L makes more sense to the pocketbook, and a 184-hp engine in a car this size is plenty.

The transmission helps a lot in achieving the solid fuel-economy ratings. The gearbox experienced delays in its initial launch due to glitches, and shifts remain a bit clunky in the 200.

A manual transmission offering would be nice, especially considering archrivals such as the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord offer such an option, but Chrysler officials say not enough people select the option for it to make business sense.