LEIGH ROBINSON goes retro with a drive behind the wheel of the Chrysler PT Cruiser... and can't understand why it's not more popular.

Surprisingly, the Chry-sler PT Cruiser has been around for six years. What is more surprising is that there are not more of them on the road.

Here is a stylish automobile which is far from being expensive and which is also pretty economic to run.

So why few takers?

Robin Wyatt, dealer principal at Kings Swindon, is also mystified.

"I guess there's no middle ground with it," he said.

"It's a case of either loving it or hating it. But it's a shame more people don't take a test drive because the doubters would soon change their minds."

And that's something I would concur with entirely.

One of the nice things about driving this unconventional beast is that you're part of a club fellow drivers acknowledge you with a jaunty wave.

It used to be like that when you drove a Triumph Vitesse or a Riley 1.5. But now with the majority of cars looking like jelly moulds no-one bothers anymore. So the Cruiser does stand out.

Due this month in the UK is the cabriolet model, and that is going to be a wow, as is the Route 66 special edition which comes in bright yellow or black.

Since its launch in July 2000, the PT Cruiser has come to personify its unique American hot-rod inspired exterior styling.

The prefix PT stands for personal transportation, which reflects PT Cruiser's flexibility and versatility for each individual owner.

The vehicle has borrowed design cues from classic American cars and interpreted them with a strong dose of American fun, freedom and spirit to bring down the barriers of conventional car design and function.

The resultant blend of contemporary and nostalgic design ideas has created a look and personality that is unmatched.

Chrysler has a long history of daring to be different and breaking down the traditional automotive segment barriers.

It beat all its competitors to create the MPV market with the original Voyager in 1983 and established the global leisure sport-utility vehicle (SUV) market through its range of Jeep vehicles.

It also brought dream concept cars to reality by putting the eight litre V10 Viper muscle car and the Prowler hot rod into production.

When it comes to the Cruiser Simon Elliott, MD for the Chrysler group in the UK, is a big fan. He said: "The PT is still unlike any other vehicle on the road.

"It's a spacious family car wrapped in an innovative, fun and distinctly American design. For 2005 the PT Cruiser maintains and builds upon Chrysler's strong reputation for delivering high specs for low cheques."

That is supported by outstanding versatility, interior comfort and class-leading spaciousness.

Currently there are six models three petrol and three diesel, the classic, touring and limited for each. The toys get better up the line.

Prices start at £13,000 and go through to £17,225 and frankly they're a bargain.

Getting into the vehicle for the first time is great. The seats support you well, the vision is first class and the ride second to none. 0-62mph is 10.8 seconds; top speed 113mph and the combined 47.2mpg. And all this for £13k.

The interior of the PT Cruiser features a circular design theme, which is seen in the instruments, the steering wheel, the sunvisor vanity mirrors, perforations in the front and rear door trim, airflow outlets, electrical power outlet caps and the cue ball gearshift knob.

And then there's the Chrysler clock which is the sexiest you'll ever come across in any car you'll drive. Go find what time it is!


  • Chrysler PT Cruiser
  • Various models from 2.2 diesel to 2.4 petrol.
  • From £12,995 to £17,225
  • 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds
  • Max speed 113mph
  • Fuel tank 57 litres
  • Combined mpg 47.2
  • Contact Kings Swindon, Greenbridge. Tel 01793 817300