Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page


 



Pretty Tame Cruiser. Image by Chrysler.

Pretty Tame Cruiser
Chrysler openly states that nearly all PT Cruisers are sold based almost entirely on looks. This isn't necessarily a bad position to be in. After all, for an American brand, selling an American car it makes a lot of sense to embrace the perceived image...

   



<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> Chrysler reviews

Chrysler's presence in the UK market has grown over the last few years as the range has swelled to contain more mainstream and niche models. The PT Cruiser is something of a mixture of both, intended to be a relatively big selling family car but with retro looks that will either seduce or repel almost instantly. The original model was spacious and looked different, but lacked the necessary talents to take on the established brands in the marketplace. Recent revisions have led to changes on the skin and beneath the surface in order to round out the talents of the PT Cruiser.

Chrysler openly states that nearly all PT Cruisers are sold based almost entirely on looks. This isn't necessarily a bad position to be in. After all, for an American brand, selling an American car it makes a lot of sense to embrace the perceived image and shy away from a direct confrontation with the Europeans in their back yard, on their terms. As a result the Chrysler PT Cruiser looks like nothing else on the roads and its packaging actually ends up straddling two market segments as it crosses over between hatchback and MPV.

The PT Cruiser's looks are still unique, flourished with 1950s US family car inspired styling cues. The revised model has new light treatments, but retains the flowing wings, stubby rear and chromed grille and door handles. More 'bling' versions are available in suitably bright paint work with chromed rims, but we tried the re-engined 2.2 CRD, here in Touring specification.

Given the profile of the Chrysler PT Cruiser it is no surprise to find that there's a lot of space inside. Headroom is more than generous and the length of the floorpan means two adults can sit one behind the other without feeling cramped. The dashboard is shallow as a consequence of the height of the screen and this too adds to the amount of space available in the cabin. Indeed the cabin in general is very spacious with a decent sized trunk to boot, not to mention a raft of cubbies and cup holders for storage.

However, the interior is rather disappointing overall and lacking in the flair that the exterior implies. Our test car featured an uninspiring grey expanse of what looked and felt like cheap plastic and it was only broken up by more greyness, or silver - itself not too far departed from grey. Other colours are available for interior trim and I'd advise prospective buyers to make sure they have a look at them. The cockpit does have some retro charm with an evocatively styled steering wheel and a chrome gear lever; the architecture is also retro in the styling of the dials, gauges and the flat-faced dash. A useful feature of the PT Cruiser's interior is the folding passenger seat; not an item fitted to many other cars in the segment. All in all it feels lacking next to its rivals that tend to be more contemporary, clinical, well finished and actually, more expensive too.

Under the bonnet the newly improved 2.2-litre four-cylinder common rail turbocharged diesel engine has plenty of poke offering 148bhp and 221lb.ft of torque. It pulls lustily through the mid-range and remains commendably composed through the upper reaches of its rev range. Nevertheless, it is rather vocal and too much turbo whistle and combustion noise reaches the cabin. Underway there is no excess harshness, but at idle (sitting at traffic lights for example) there is a pronounced vibration through not just the pedals and gearstick but through the whole body and structure of the car.

Long gearing and the decent refinement make sure that the Chrysler PT Cruiser lives up to its name and it makes a good fist of motorway journeys. Back roads are less of a happy hunting ground as the driving experience isn't as good as that of its rivals. Uneven surfaces, ridges and bumps unsettle it and the PT bottomed out on its bump stops several times on some of the more challenging roads we use. The handling isn't too bad but it isn't as fun as the looks suggest it may be. The steering is light, but lacks communication and the pedals don't offer the kind of interaction one would expect in a modern hatch. Overall, yes, you can have a laugh, but it's not engaging and you won't be driving the car for the sake of it.

As you'd expect, the PT Cruiser scores highly in the areas American cars usually do when offered for sale in the UK market; namely space, equipment and value for money. The Touring specification offers air conditioning, a CD player, electrics and a trip computer, as well as the odd addition of a driver's seat with limited electrical adjustment. In terms of pricing, none of the targeted rivals offer the same blend of equipment, warranty and space at the same price.

In addition to these traditional strong points the Chrysler PT Cruiser has individuality that few rivals can approach and is a great improvement over the anonymous and forgettable Neon that was Chrysler's original mass marketing offering in Europe. The standout image will still be sufficient persuasion for some to make the purchase, but those looking for more rounded capabilities and functionalities will find it in more conventional European offerings.
Chrysler PT Cruiser UK range overview

- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Classic (manual): 12,995
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.2 CRD Classic (manual): 14,225
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Touring (manual): 14,525
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Touring (automatic): 15,325
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Route 66 (manual): 15,540
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.2 CRD Touring (manual): 15,725
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Limited (manual): 16,025
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Route 66 (automatic): 16,240
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.2 CRD Route 66 (manual): 16,640
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Limited (automatic): 16,825
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.2 CRD Limited (manual): 17,225
- Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.4 Cabrio (manual): 17,500 (left-hand drive only at time of writing)

Dave Jenkins - 7 Mar 2006



  www.chrysler.co.uk    - Chrysler road tests
- Chrysler news
- PT Cruiser images

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser specifications: (2.2 CRD Touring manual)
Price: 15,725 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Top speed: 113mph
Combined economy: 47.2mpg
Emissions: 177g/km
Kerb weight: 1585kg

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by Chrysler.2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by Chrysler.2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by Chrysler.2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by Chrysler.2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by Chrysler.

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by Chrysler.  


2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Image by James Jenkins.
 






 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Old motor show reports | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2024 ©