Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabrio 2006 Review
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It was easy to drop the electric top and soak up the warmth in a vehicle that is likely to sell to a small but very happy group of Australians.
Chrysler Group Australia aims to move only 200-250 Cabrios, but believes they will boost PT Cruiser sales to about 1200 cars a year and rattle some rivals, including the Volkswagen Beetle and Mini convertibles.
The PT is more than just a Cruiser with a roof job. The car has been taken from a five-door hatch and converted into a two-door with a boot below the foldaway roof.
The top is a triple-layer electric job with a one-button operation that can be flipped or folded at walking pace if you get caught in a surprise shower.
It is priced from $35,890 as a five-speed manual, up from the $29,990 basic PT Cruiser but well in the ballpark against the Beetle Cabrio at $36,990 and with something special on the design front.
How is it different? The styling is very different," Chrysler group managing director Gerry Jenkins says.
"It's a vehicle that stands by itself, and the odd thing is that the people who buy them don't want anything else. That's the same for all the PT Cruiser models."
He admits the timing could have been better.
"It's available to us now, and it's not a bad time, because it gets people thinking ahead to summer," he says.
The Cruiser Cabrio is a four-seat car that has been strengthened in almost 40 places for its convertible work, including a sport bar behind the front seats.
The roofline is 62mm lower than the sedan's and there is a new windscreen frame, and heated seats in the Limited model.
The engine is the PT's regular 2.4-litre four with 105kW and either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed auto with touch-change manual mode.
Jenkins believes the PT Cabrio will do well and continue the growth of the Chrysler brand, which is being headlined by the 300C and will soon include the Dodge Caliber compact.
"The PT is our Steady Eddie. We sell about 1000 a year. It just keeps on going.
"I think this will give it a little bit of a lift. There are people who already have a PT who will step up to this one.
"PT owners are very animated, and like to be outside the norm," Jenkins says.
"As for the 300, we're still running short of stock. And we're launching the Touring model and we're doing the diesel engine at the same time. We have a waiting list on the SRT8 through to September."
ON THE ROAD
The Cruiser Cabrio is a distinctive newcomer, that's for sure. The PT has always been very different and the drop-top is more of the same.
It's not the best-looking car with the top up, with a rear end we think is a bit dumpy and a roofline that does not work as well as the original, but it looks trendy and new with the top folded away.
The top is easy to work and works well, there is reasonable boot space, and there's room for two adults in the back.
The PT has never been the quickest or sportiest car on the road, but the Cabrio gets along well enough with its 2.4-litre engine.
The manual gearbox still feels slick and, even though it has only four gears, the auto is fun with the "Autostick" system for manual work.
The conversion has weakened the car a little, but it still feels solid and substantial.
It is not as wobbly as some other droptops we have driven, though it is not in the rock-solid class of the new Mazda MX-5.
There is little wind noise or buffeting when the is top down, but several test cars had a rumble behind the windscreen when the top was up.
And, as always, three-quarter and parking vision is compromised.
So the Cruiser Cabrio is not a sports car or the best convertible in the world, but it was a great way to blow away the winter blues. The sun shone and we had a nice drive. Enough said.
Range and Specs
|Limited||2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$5,000 – 7,810||2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser 2006 Limited Pricing and Specs|
|Touring||2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$4,700 – 7,590||2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser 2006 Touring Pricing and Specs|
|Classic||2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$4,000 – 6,490||2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser 2006 Classic Pricing and Specs|
|Grand Tourer||2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$3,100 – 5,280||2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser 2006 Grand Tourer Pricing and Specs|
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