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About 18 months ago when I was in New England I rented a Chrysler PT cruiser for two weeks & clocked up more than 1000 miles, it gave me a good opportunity to assess the vehicle for this review.
As you will see with the pictures of the actual vehicle it is a modern interpretation of a 1930s American hot rod & Chrysler have done rather a good job. The low front & high rear ends with slab sides mimics the old hot rods as does the pointed bonnet line & front wing styles. The retro look is carried over to the interior with body coloured painted metal dashboard along with little details as the fake ivory gear knob & old style chrome door handles.
The car was originally to be badged as a Plymouth PT Cruiser but when the parent company (Chrysler) decided to terminate the Plymouth brand the name was changed to simply Chrysler. The 'PT' stands for personal transportation, which I assume most cars are in comparison to a train or a bendy bus! It was introduced to a very enthusiastic public in the year 2000 & it wasn't long before there were waiting lists for the car, it is no longer in production. This particular rental car had a 2.4litre four cylinder engine just for the North American market, but European versions which were made in Austria came with either a 2.0 litre petrol engine or a 2.4litre turbo diesel engine.
On this particular car the general finish inside & out was rather good with even panel gaps, good closing doors that closed with a reassuring 'clunk' & switches that felt as though they would last for quite a while.
The PT Cruiser is a five door, five seater hatchback which by American standards isn't that big which is probably why it became a sales success in the UK. It's a very practical car too; the boot is a decent size which can be enlarged if you fold down the rear seats. There was ample cubby holes inside to store odd & ends, to be exact. The front seats felt comfortable with folding arm rests in the centre which were perfectly located for a comfortable drive.
The car came with the features you expect these days such as radio/CD, air conditioning, electric windows, central locking, electric mirrors & air bags. This particular vehicle was an automatic, as the Americans prefer autos to manuals & have been making them for so long, as you would expect it was a very smooth gearbox. The 'up' changes were very smooth indeed although 'kick down' was a bit more severe than I expected but it may have been just a problem to this particular vehicle.
Driving the PT cruiser it soon became apparent it would be a smooth & refined car, driving in a foreign country on the opposite side of the road from the UK forces you to drive with a little more care & attention so this vehicle was never really 'pushed to the limits'. Suffice to say the engine became a little harsh when pushed towards the 'red line', it handled safely, had a smooth ride, the brakes were more than 'up to the job' & the steering was positive without feeling to light even with power assistance.
Fuel consumption I didn't record, with fuel prices around $1.90 a gallon who cares, filling it up one day cost me around $16.00 but I would have expected around 25-30 mpg. In the UK with different engines & higher fuel costs the fuel consumption would be a greater concern & I would advise finding out first before you decide to purchase one. Having had a short spell working at a UK Chrysler dealer I remember their vehicles as being pretty reliable with only the electrics giving some minor troubles.
Would I buy one or recommend one? Although I think Chrysler have done a great job recreating the '1930s hot rod' look on this car, for me its now become a little dated looking but I was impressed overall with the car in the two weeks I had it & wouldn't want to put anyone off at least driving one so that you can form their own opinion.
This is simply one of those cars that you either love or hate - I happen to hate it, but never mind........Compared top almost any modern new car on sale in this country there could only be ONE reason for purchasing one of these and that is purely for it's style. In all other respects it is years behind the competition in terms of technology - and more importantly now - running costs. Unfortunately I'm not so keen on the idea of reviewing a left hand drive car driven in the US either.......conditions are quite different there and American cars have never converted to rhd / English roads very well. Richard.
torr 01.12.2008 14:56
I can't say the car appeals, but a good review as usual.