There’s a certain Bonnie-and-Clyde, devil-may-care jauntiness about the high gait and retro features of our PT Cruiser even when it comes in this shiny, bright blue rather than the sober black favoured by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the movie. Another plus is that it has bags of room. Some tall rear-seat passengers kept asking on a long journey whether I had enough leg room in the front as they felt they had an inordinate amount of space in the back.
And it’s definitely made for cruising.
A recent dash down the motorway to catch a plane revealed the car to be in its element there, with plenty of power available however hard it was pushed (which it was, to the extreme, resulting in a nick-of-time check-in that some other vehicles would probably have missed).
But take it off a straight road and it’s a different story. The hard, upright seating position makes drivers feel they are travelling in an old-fashioned taxi cab and unless they slow right down on corners they find themselves leaning heavily to one side.
Maybe that reflects the American style of motoring.
The turning circle, something akin to the Queen Mary, may also be a peculiarity of our transatlantic cousins.
All that space over there may translate into enormous parking bays so Cruiser drivers are not obliged to do a three-point turn simply to get into or out of a supermarket car park, as happens in this country.
And what about that beeping? Is it a reflection of US litigation laws that means almost any manoeuvre in the driver’s seat has to be made to the accompaniment of a really annoying noise? It even happens when you put the car into reverse.
To be fair, that seems to be the way manufacturers are moving generally when it comes to so-called safety alerts but I can’t be the only driver who finds it irksome to have some irritating and pedantic virtual instructor alongside telling me what to do.
I know when I’m in reverse, I’m not going to forget to put on my seatbelt and I’m perfectly capable of conducting my affairs without the help of a nanny beeper. So just leave me alone and shut up, OK?
However, despite this diatribe, the PT Cruiser suits me just fine. I have become very fond of its quirky looks and admire Chrysler’s stab at producing something with bags more character than the average saloon.
And, of course, its feisty performance on the straight probably saved me my holiday – a feat for which I will be eternally grateful, so I can easily forgive a few minor niggles.
Model: Chrysler PT Cruiser 2.2 CRD Limited
Price (OTR): £17,220
CO2 emissions (g/km): 185
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £81 per month
Insurance group: 12
Combined mpg: 40.9
Test mpg: 38.4
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,225/37%
HSBC contract hire rate: £367 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles