There’s something about the Chrysler PT Cruiser — simply looking at it is enough to put a smile on your face. But for many folks, the fun starts to fade once they slip it in gear. Even with the optional flame paint kit, the PT is a bit of a poseur, barely fast enough to get out of its own way. And that’s turned off a lot of potential customers, as the recent decline in sales suggests. But help is on its way.
At this week’s New York Auto Show, Chrysler pulls the wraps off an all-new version of the Cruiser, this one carrying an unambiguously suggestive new nameplate. Dubbed PT Turbo, it takes the anemic 2.4-liter four-banger and with the help of a fast-revving turbocharger, bumps the pony count from 150 to 215.
TheCarConnection.com recently had a chance to spend a day behind the wheel, and what we found was a 98-pound weakling transformed into the sort of street performer we always suspected was hidden within the PT Cruiser’s genes.
First, some basics. This is, by Chrysler’s count, the fifth PT Cruiser spin-off. Including the Flame and Woody editions, there are also three body packages and the upcoming Cabrio. By comparison, the changes here are visually modest: unique, 17-inch, Blade Silver painted five-spoke cast aluminum wheels, and body-color side moldings and front and rear fascia. You’re most likely to notice the oversized front grille designed to help the turbo breathe and to provide better airflow for the intercooler. Backside, there’s a large diameter chrome exhaust tip.
2003 Chrysler PT TurboEnlarge Photo