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First drive: Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.2 CRD - on sale now


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With its retro Fifties styling, the PT Cruiser certainly has the Marmite effect on people – you either love it or you hate it. But while it may not have been a huge seller for Chrysler, (2,743 sales in 2004 and 1,824 so far this year), it has undoubtedly raised the British motoring public’s awareness of the US brand.

The problem is that, five years on from its launch, most people who wanted one have brought one and the novelty is wearing off. Worse still, buyers looking for a small MPV or estate now have a wide choice of modern and distinct-looking cars, such as the Seat Altea.

For 2006, Chrysler has revised the Cruiser to revive flagging sales. The exterior is mainly unchanged with slight alterations to the front and rear lights and bumpers, with a new grille to give it the Chrysler family look.

The main changes are inside, where the cabin has been given a much-needed overhaul. Gone are the cheap feeling plastics and dated dials to be replaced by a more garish-looking interior. It echoes the 300C, but it still lags behind the competition in terms of looks and quality.

While the 2.4-litre petrol engine remains unchanged, Chrysler is pinning its hopes on a revised version of the 2.2-litre diesel. Power has increased by 30bhp and consequently it’s quicker from 0-62mph. Both emissions and economy have improved.

Behind the wheel, there is an abundance of bodyroll at any tight turn, while the light steering lacks feedback.

An all-new PT Cruiser is due in 2007, and while the Cabrio version (Chrysler is importing 100 left-hand drive versions to the UK) may generate renewed interest, a successor can’t come soon enough.

Strengths: Improved engine and interior
Weaknesses: Too much bodyroll, handling is woolly
Opportunity: New diesel should help boost sales
Threat: No longer the stand out car it once was
The USP : Revised Cruiser diesel packs more punch
Price: £14,225-17,225
Engines: 2.2-litre diesel: 150bhp
Performance: 0-62mph: 10.8sec; top speed: 114mph
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Efficiency: 42.2mpg; 177g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £5,025 (30%)
Rivals: Seat Altea, Citroën Xsara Picasso, Peugeot 307, Renault Mégane Scenic

First drive: Chrysler 300C

Revitalised Chrysler is giving most of Britain’s business car segment a wide berth with its new 300C executive model, which went on sale in mid-June.

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