IT'S difficult to think of Chrysler without imagining open highways, roadside diners and rock music. The brand is synonymous with the American ideals of freedom, performance and style. From the retro-cool PT Cruiser to the grace and practicality of the Voyager and Grand Voyager, these cars capture the imagination. But they are more than a style statement. Competitive pricing, generous standard equipment and a range of efficient engines ensure that a Chrysler is a company car that can be bought with the head as well as the heart.
Voyager: transatlantic style with substance
Normally when we choose something 'a little bit different' it tends to carry a heavy financial burden. How many times have you heard the word 'exclusive' used to justify an outrageous price?
Thankfully, the Chrysler Voyager is the exception that proves the rule.
For all its style and transatlantic appeal, the Voyager is surprisingly affordable. The entry-level 2.4 SE, for example, carries a price tag of just £18,495 on the road, which compares well with the new Renault Espace 2.0 16v Authentique at £19,130 and the Toyota Previa 2.4GS at £19,950 on the road. And that's despite a specification that includes dual zone climate control, CD player and all-round electric windows.
The case for the Voyager CRD is equally compelling. Combining transatlantic style with a 140bhp 2.5-litre common-rail turbo-diesel, the Voyager CRD SE costs £19,695.
By contrast, the entry-level Renault Espace diesel, the 1.9dCi Authentique, offers just 117bhp and costs £20,135. Toyota's Previa 2.0-litre D4-D is even more expensive at £21,450.
Company car drivers wanting the ultimate in spacious luxury though, are best served by the extended wheelbase Chrysler Grand Voyager. Boasting generous space for seven adults and their luggage, it wants for nothing and yet the entry-level Grand Voyager 2.5 CRD LX costs just £24,095. By contrast, the lowest priced Renault Grand Espace diesel, the 2.2dCi Expression, costs £24,385 on the road.
Specified for luxury and safety
Every Voyager boasts an impressive array of standard equipment.
To maximise occupant protection, even the entry-level SE is fitted as standard with twin front and side airbags, ABS and side impact protection guards. The SE also offers dual zone climate control, all-round electric windows, a CD/radio cassette player with six speakers and no fewer than 11 cupholders.
Company car drivers choosing the equivalent Ford Galaxy, the LX, must pay extra for side airbags and a CD player, while making do with manual air conditioning.
Customers upgrading to the Grand Voyager LX and top of the range Limited variants benefit from even more luxury. The Limited, for example, features power sliding side doors, a 6-disc in-dash CD player with 10 Premium Infinity® speakers, cruise control and leather seats, which are heated in the front.
Yet despite this lavish specification the Grand Voyager 2.5 CRD Limited costs just £27,695.
Nor does the extensive equipment list hide dynamic deficiencies. As the table right illustrates, the 2.5-litre common-rail turbodiesel combines class leading power and torque figures with frugal fuel consumption. The Voyager's output of 140bhp and 230lb ft comfortably eclipses the Toyota Previa D4-D (114bhp and 184lb ft), for example, despite the Previa's £1,755 price premium. And this performance advantage is achieved with only a minor penalty at the pumps – the Chrysler achieves 43.5mpg, compared with the Toyota's 46.3mpg.
Limited XS offers new level of luxury
Voyager drivers will be offered a new level of luxury in 2003 with the introduction of the Grand Voyager Limited XS. This exciting new flagship, which is available in both 3.3 V6 and 2.5 CRD variants, offers an unrivalled specification.
Powered windows and doors, dual zone climate control, satellite navigation and leather trim will be joined by a unique, removable centre console. This features a fully integrated DVD system with a seven-inch overhead screen.
Never again will you hear the immortal phrase 'are we nearly there yet?'
With the might of the DaimlerChrysler corporation behind it, the latest Voyager combines American style and Chrysler's pioneering MPV heritage backed by an impressive track record of over nine million sales worldwide.
The Voyager's 2.5-litre common-rail turbodiesel engine, for example, was developed combining impressive refinement and economy with class-leading power and torque. The 2.4-litre and 3.3-litre V6 petrol engines have also been developed to deliver strong performance with competitive economy and exhaust emissions.
A 20% increase in torsional rigidity compared with the previous Voyager has resulted in improved safety, refinement and driving dynamics. This improved stiffness, coupled with a sophisticated suspension set-up featuring anti-roll bars at both ends, ensures that the Voyager offers a saloon-like driving experience.
This dynamic prowess also, of course, makes an important contribution to vehicle safety. To ensure the Voyager stops as well as it goes, Chrysler increased the size of the all-round disc brakes, when compared with the previous model. The engineers also introduced an Electronically Variable Brake Proportioning system (EVBP). This uses sensors from the ABS to apportion the stopping power between the front and rear wheels and minimise braking distances. The system also reduces wear on the front brake linings, extending their life.
|Chrysler Voyager: OTR price comparisons|
|Model||OTR price (£)|
|Chrysler Voyager 2.4 SE||£18,495|
|Ford Galaxy 2.3i 16v LX||£18,245|
|Mazda MPV 2.3i||£18,495|
|Renault Espace 2.0 16v Authentique||£19,130|
|Source: manufacturer data|
|Chrysler Voyager: comparisons with key rivals|
|Model||OTR price (£)||Power (bhp)||Torque (lb-ft)||MPG (extra urban)|
|Voyager 2.5 CRD SE||£19,695||140||230||43.5|
|Ford Galaxy 1.9 TD LX 115||£19,740||113||229||51.4|
|Mazda MPV 2.0i TD||£19,995||136||229||45.6|
|Renault Espace 1.9dCi Authentique||£20,135||119||199||47.1|
|Toyota Previa D4-D GS||£21,450||114||184||46.3|
|Source: manufacturer data|
Stunning Crossfire goes on sale in Autumn 2003
The Chrysler Crossfire is one of the most eagerly anticipated cars of 2003. This rakish two-seater sports car defines the spirit of Chrysler and combines American design with German engineering.
It reaches these shores in autumn 2003, and with an expected price of between £26,000 and £29,000 it will compete head-on with the Audi TT, new Mazda RX-8, BMW Z4 and the Nissan 350Z.
Designed by Briton Andrew Dyson, the Crossfire has a carved, sculpted look with a prominent centre 'spine' that enhances its muscular appeal.
Inside, the theme continues, with a daring 'twin-cockpit' design trimmed in leather. Under the bonnet is a 3.2-litre 18-valve V6 engine developing an impressive 215bhp and 229lb ft of torque. And with a sophisticated suspension set-up and rear-wheel drive, the Crossfire's driving dynamics promise to justify its dramatic appearance.
PT Cruiser blends practicality with style
The Chrysler PT Cruiser needs little introduction.
This bold design, which harks back to American muscle cars of the 1950s, has captured public imagination across the world. Rarely has such a sensible, practical vehicle exuded such a sheer sense of fun.
Unlike so many other style-conscious cars, Chrysler has not allowed function to follow form. The PT Cruiser can accommodate five adults and their luggage with ease, and the rear seat can be removed altogether to leave a vast, versatile load bay accessed through a wide-opening tailgate.
Although the styling draws its inspiration from the classic 1950s, the cabin is equipped with all the latest mod-cons. Every model includes air conditioning, electric windows and a CD player, while the top-spec Limited variant comes with leather trim.
Two engines are available – a potent 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol and a recently introduced 2.2-litre common-rail turbodiesel. The latter was developed in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz and offers class leading power and torque outputs of 119bhp and 221lb ft. This is sufficient to whisk the Cruiser from 0-60mph in just 12.1sec, and yet it still achieves an extra-urban fuel consumption figure of 50.4mpg.
The PT Cruiser range starts with the 2.0-litre Classic at just £14,995 on the road and rises to the lavishly equipped 2.2 CRD Limited at £18,890. The entry level turbodiesel model, the 2.2 CRD Touring, costs £17,490.