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Driven: Chrysler PT Cruiser GT - on sale now

Factsheet

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Review

The PT (or personal transportation) Cruiser has been around since 2000 and has carved a niche as a versatile alternative to the standard family car. However, its 2.0-litre petrol unit has been long criticised for being noisy and underpowered.

For 2005 Chrysler has replaced this with a new 141bhp 2.4-litre engine, although it is not the turbocharged version which is available in the States. The Euro IV compliant unit may have more torque than the old 2.0-litre, but horsepower is only marginally higher. Although it is smoother and more refined it does not feel much quicker – a real shame because a quicker, turbo version of the Cruiser would open up a whole new market and compliment the sporty GT moniker.

Instead GT is more of a trim level than a pretence at performance. It adds a roof mounted rear spoiler, sports suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and interior styling such as an alloy gear knob. From the outside the changes are easy to notice, but inside it is the standard fare of dark plastics and chunky switches, looking more dated than retro.

It’s not lacking in equipment, and for just shy of £15k there is air conditioning, cruise control, electric windows all round, traction control and driver, passenger and side airbags.

The Cruiser’s not a bad car to drive either, and with the GT versions sport suspension it’s quite happy to be thrown round corners without making passengers feel ill. But the steering is a little light and there’s not much in the way of feedback. In a straight line it’s very comfortable, if ultimately unexciting.

The Cruiser is due a facelift at the end of this year, with a new model following in 2007 and Chrysler is also bringing over 100 left-hand drive Cabriolet versions this year, which should regenerate interest.

Strengths: Keen pricing and good specification
Weaknesses: Starting to look dated, boot not that large
Opportunity: Gives the Cruiser a sporty edge
Threat: Unfortunately not sporty enough
The USP: American spin on personal transportation
Price: £14,995
Engine :2.4-litre 4cyl petrol, 141bhp
Transmission: 5spd manual
Performance:0-62mph 10.6sec; top speed 121mph
Efficiency: 29.1mpg, 231g/km CO2
CAP RV (3/30): £6,350 (43%)
Rivals:VW Beetle, Peugeot 307

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