Initially there was only a single engine, a 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol. Performance was adequate, getting from 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 118mph. It has an average fuel consumption figure of 33mpg, although this figure rapidly worsens when the car is driven hard. The 113bhp 2.2-litre CRD was introduced in February 2002 but although it pulls well, it's no sprinter.
Economy is better - at 41mpg, but the 0-60mph time falls to 12 seconds. In late 2004 the 2.0-litre was replaced with a 143bhp 2.4-litre, which although didn't bring a significant hike in power, is smoother. However, it still lags behind rivals in terms of refinement, useable mid-range power and fuel economy. In 2006 the 2.2-litre CRD was upgraded to 148bhp and is by far the best engine to go for in the range with improved in-gear pace and useful fuel economy of 42mpg.
The PT Cruiser is an easy car to drive, but the wide turning circle makes manoeuvring in town more difficult than it should be. The long-stalked gearlever gives a fluent change, but it's too easy to select reverse, when you really want first. Another gripe is the imprecise steering which lacks feel and the brakes are a little spongy while there's noticeable body roll when cornering.
The ride is generally okay, but over uneven roads it can feel rough.
A highly-adjustable driving position makes for an adequate drive, but the dash is confusing, with buttons placed without logic - you really have to hunt around for some. Worse still is the awful plastics used that feel cheap and scratchy in most places, while rear visibility is restricted by the rear pillars and headrests. Cars from 2006 have a much improved driving position and the dials are easier to read (they're no longer in a 'tunnel' housing) plus the buttons and switches are more logically placed and easier to use.
But the seats are still far and the plastics are little better - the silver finish on the centre console simply looks naff.
The PT Cruiser isn't really an MPV - you should think of it more as a larger hatchback. As a leftfield choice instead of a Focus, Golf or Astra, it's roomy with lots of head and legroom, but some buyers may find the seats a little too upright and the rear bench seat isn't ideal for long journeys. Plus despite Chrysler's claims that cabin noise has been reduced, excessive wind and road noise still makes long trips tiring.