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First drive: Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabriolet – on sale now

Factsheet

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Review

Buyers of the PT Cruiser Cabriolet are members of an exclusive club. Since Chrysler took the decision to bring the car to the UK a year ago only 100 have been imported.

Chrysler UK clearly recognizes the market for this variant is limited, although it hopes the car will have a halo effect on the rest of the range. There are numerous things going against it, however, which mean only the most passionate PT Cruiser fan will want the Cabriolet.

For a start, it is available only in left-hand drive and with a thirsty yet underpowered 2.4-litre petrol engine. Factor in its flashy chrome alloy wheels, nouveau hot-rod bodystyling – a love it or hate it design – and poor rear visibility through the fabric hood and it will be hard to persuade most rationally-thinking consumers to consider a test drive.

Those members of the public who do won’t be shrinking violets. During our test period the PT Cruiser Cabriolet turned quite a few heads, and buyers will need to get used to this, because its limited availability means it will remain a rare sight.

Unlike some convertibles, the PT actually looks okay with the hood up, except for the huge body-coloured roll bar visible through the side windows. Nevertheless, its profile is improved with the roof down. This is achieved with the twist of a handle and push of a button, before fitting a tonneau cover over the folded hood. Unfortunately the Cabriolet’s design makes unloading the boot quite an exercise. Reach for something deep inside the poorly lit boot and it feels like climbing into a postbox.

The occupants’ experience is brightened by body-coloured plastic panels, while the switches fall easily to hand. Standard equipment includes leather seats, air-con, electric mirrors and windows.

The driving experience isn’t bad either, although that 2.4-litre motor is underpowered.

While the Cabriolet will help Chrysler renew interest in the PT, its sales expectations are rightly modest.

Strengths: Rarity, brakes, ride, standard leather seats
Weaknesses: Left-hand drive, looks, inefficient engine
Opportunity: Renew interest in the PT range
Threat: Buyers will need real passion
USP: Very limited
Price: £17,495
Engine: 2.4-litre petrol, 150bhp
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Performance: 0-62mph: 11.3sec; top speed: 121mph
Efficiency: 29.1mpg; 231g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30K: £6,150 (36%)
Rivals: Peugeot 307 Coupe Cabriolet, Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet

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