Thursday 16 February 2012

Road - Delta has Maxi appeal

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder than I need stronger glasses. The Chrysler Delta looks like a modest family hatchback that has been squeezed and stretched by a kid with Photoshop, or maybe it has just been sucking a wee bag of soor plooms!

It does have some appealing features though, and despite what the wife says, I think the rump is particularly pleasing with the curved tail lamp clusters, but it’s the front end that unites opinion. The new-shape Chrysler grille just seems pinched and pulled on the front of the Delta.

Undaunted, I climbed in and offered the delivery driver a lift to his next vehicle pick up which was four miles away and would save him the bother and expense of a finding a taxi. Delighted with my unbounded kindness and generosity, he waltzed round to the passenger side, threw open the front door and jumped in - banging into my left shoulder so hard, I hit the door on the right!

Admittedly we were both wearing thick winter jackets, and perhaps also, both of us were showing some evidence of an excessive liking for that most traditional of domestic treats, the Scotch pie. In other words, the cabin was a bit narrow for the two of us. He had to twist in his seat just to give me shoulder room to get at the gearstick.

And that was the only complaint about the living quarters. In all other respects, headroom and legroom were good, both front and rear, and it was a pleasant car to drive. Ignore what Chrysler calls its ‘Absolute Handling System’ and just enjoy the jolt and judder free ride despite the lack of care and attention to the nation’s blacktop by sundry councils.

Another thing that will appeal to the most miserly amongst us was an easy 50 mpg from the 120 hp 1.6 diesel which is remarkably quiet and refined for an engine of this size in a compact family car.

If there is an issue, it is the high sill to get into boot. The boot is big enough for spare wheels and toolboxes, but the H&S safety polis might object to the physical dexterity required. It’s not so bad lifting stuff in, but lifting heavy kit up, over and out requires more than just two grunts and a pech.

And after a week spent with the Chrysler here’s an admission. Do you know what it reminded me of? An Austin Maxi. Now don’t laugh, I actually had two Maxis in a previous driving life many years ago, a 1500cc job and then a 1750 and they were both terrific. With the back seat folded flat and the front seatbacks down it had a double bed – ideal for spectating at rallies, getting there the night before and kipping up so you were first in the queue in the morning! Happy days.

Sadly the Chrsyler doesn’t have that similar flexible seating facility, but in all other respects it is just as comfy and practical as a Maxi. Now is that a compliment or an insult? It depends on your view of the Maxi. Sad to admit, but I really liked it.

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