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Chrysler Neon (1996 - 1999)

Last updated 22 November 2019

 
1
Cheap.
Sub-standard interior and rough engine. Boot space compromised by suspension turrets.

Introduction

In the USA, the Chrysler Neon was a force to be reckoned with. One of the best-selling cars on the market, you could say it was America’s answer to the Ford Escort. And then some bright spark decided that it could also be Japan’s answer to the Ford Escort… and also the UK’s.

Conceived as a way of General Motors selling more cars in Japan, some bright spark also remembered that the UK was also set up for left-hand drive automotive product. The logic was simple: if the car sold well in the USA, then it would sell just as well in Japan and the UK.

Ultimately, there were many, many reasons the UK didn’t embrace the Neon. For a start, it wasn’t very good to drive, then there was the problem that we didn’t get much stock – not to mention the fact we had to buy them from Jeep dealers, of which there weren’t that many.

Nevertheless, the Neon did have some redeeming features. The haters will tell you it was rubbish to drive but power and economy from the 2.0-litre unit were excellent for the time. Here was a car that was only a tenth of a second slower than a Golf GTi, and even the most basic models were loaded with kit - electric door mirros, ABS, and air- con were all standard on the LX.

These days, Neons actually have their own cult following (see also the Ford Probe). And why not – for under a grand you get a car that’s pretty reliable, comfy, and one of just a handful left on the UK’s road.

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