Chrysler has launched budget versions of its PT Cruiser to add value to a very stylish, eccentric car. But will concern about the range's resale values hinder the models' chances of success?

Chrysler has launched budget versions of its PT Cruiser to add value to a very stylish, eccentric car. But will concern about the range's resale values hinder the models' chances of success?

The 20 000km test of a PT Cruiser LTD automatic in the February issue of CAR magazine found that owning the vehicle was like "living with retro style and duffelbag practicality". However, a disappointing trade-in offer for that particular vehicle prompted CAR to declare "the Chrysler not a great investment, (the model) probably being too extreme in styling for the marketplace".

At the Auto Africa motor show in 2002, the Chrysler division vowed to introduce more affordable cars with better value propositions. That promise has been fulfilled with the addition of a 3-year/60 000km service plan and limited free insurance.

"Added value will be the cornerstone of Chrysler's marketing philosophy during 2004 and will include the launch of some good value proposition models like the PT Cruiser Classic. We will also offer the South African consumer several aggressive financial packages on all our product lines," Guy Franken, Chrysler and Jeep marketing manager at DCSA, said.

The PT Cruiser Classic 2,2 CRD is fitted with DaimlerChrysler's CRD power unit, derived from a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine. The 2,2-litre engine features direct injection, an IHI turbocharger with a mixed flow turbine and produces 89 kW at 4 200 r/min and 300 N.m of torque between 1 600 and 2 600 r/min.

The PT Cruiser Classic 2,0L utilises the same DOHC, 16-valve unit employed in the PT Cruiser since its launch in 2001. The 2,0-litre sequential multi-point fuel injected engine produces 104kW at 5 600 r/min and 188 N.m of torque at 4 400 r/min.

However, one of the key findings of the long-term CAR test was the extent of the Chrysler's devaluation within the test period.

"At the time of the 24 000km service, we asked Orbit Motors to quote a price for the Cruiser on a trade-in for a Jeep Cherokee, and they offered R130 000, a price that reflected a drop in value of 36 per cent (when new, the purchase price was R201 900). This was disappointing for a vehicle that was in as-good-as-new condition, and appeared out of line with trade prices (not retail prices) of around R165 000 that were being quoted in the market place for 2002 models.

Yet apart from this obvious shortcoming, the PT Cruiser was still noted as being a car that received its fair amount of admiring glances and above all, was fun to drive.

The PT Cruiser Classic 2,0-litre costs R179 900 while the more gutsy 2,2-litre derivative costs R204 900. Both derivatives are only available with a five-speed manual gearbox.

DaimlerChrysler Financial Services - under the branding of Chrysler and Jeep Finance - have created a number of aggressive finance options for all such products. "Applying fixed below-prime interest rates and guaranteed buy back options allow customers increased value, " the company claims.

Visually, the PT Cruiser Classic differs little from its Touring and Limited siblings. Most noticeably, the vehicle loses the alloy rims available on the other models. It has 15-inch steel wheels with bolt-on wheel covers. The front fog lamps and body side mouldings have also been omitted. Roof rails are also not available, as is now customary on all the PT Cruisers sold in South Africa.