AutoRAI 1999: the concept cars:
Chrysler is one of the
car manufacturers that uses prototypes, show cars and concept cars very intensively to
create a desirable image. And they're doing a good job as well. But it isn't just all
show, sometimes the Chrysler concept cars are very serious indeed. Like with this Pronto
Cruizer that was introduced at the Swiss Geneva car show in Februari 1998. This concept is
a design study for a MPV type of car called PT Cruiser that has been introduced on the
Detroit Motorshow in January 1999. Somehow the Dutch Chrysler importer apparently thought
it was a good idea to first show the study before the actual product, which lacked from
In my opinion this
Pronto Cruizer looks better than what it resulted in; it's better proportioned and has
sleeker lines. In European eyes both the Pronto Cruizer and the PT Cruiser look odd
though. The cars clearly have their roots in hot-rod design, a car sub-culture more
established in the USA than in Europe. Even so, Chrysler expects to sell a lot (about
30000) of PT Cruisers in Europe. I don't give them much chance, not with the bulky and
uncommon looks of the car. But I certainly give them a lot of credit trying something very
much out of the ordinary.
The best aspects of the
Pronto Cruizer are its aggressive front and the curvy, retro-styled sides. It would have
been so much more logical if Chrysler had made the PT Cruiser a individualistic coupé
instead of an unlikely MPV.
The PT Cruiser (as well as the Pronto Cruizer) is based upon the underpinnings of the second generation Chrysler Neon and will be fitted with 1.6 and 2.0 litre petrol engines and also a turbo-diesel version will be an option. In Europe it will be in the market segment of the Renault Mégane Scenic and the Citroën Xsara Picasso. Length is 4285 mm, width is 1705 mm and height is 1600 mm.
The rear is the weakest
side of the Pronto Cruizer: it looks a bit like that of the good-old VW Bug. By the way,
the car was placed on a very impressive looking aluminium (artificial?) platform. A very
neat presentation that gave the car something extra.
It was a pity that this was the only Chrysler concept car on display. They have made so many beautiful show cars over the last couple of years and the Chrysler image in Europe still leaves a lot to be desired, so why not make a bigger impact with more spectacular show cars?
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