This is my way of saying goodbye to the big little spunky car that didnt cost an arm and a leg to purchase or run.
they have oficially axed the poor leon in favor of no doubt, a rebadged next generation PT Cruiser.
it is a sad day.
when i was in high school, my father had us all in a pack of fords.
tempo, taurus, f250; my brother and i being the oddballs with the less reliable cars, he in a datsunn/nissan stanza hatchback and me in a vw beetle. he bought everyone in the family a new chrysler.
my family bought the original neon sport sedan here at the birmingham auto show. dandy little car. spunky, efficient, rock solid reliable until it was hit head-on by a geo at around 80k. and darn cute.
after Leon Sr. met his demise, he was replaced with the updated 1998 SC model. for those that dont know, in the 1997 model year, the neon received not only more elegant exterior and interior finishes, but the car was updated with 1/3 of the car being redesigned to iron out those new model quirks.
that sport coupe(the sport is no longer the *real* sport after 1996, it was replaced with an option package with less suspension modifications. it uses a touring suspension as opposed to the originals competition one.) has carried me 140,000 miles and has not asked for much on that journey. i truly love my leon Jr. and think that this replace all outgoing models with a SUV wannabe approach is just plain wrong.
the caliber is too agressive. the styling will not appeal to women(the core audience of the neon) at all. it barely interests me. they have packed it with new technology that will be less reliable than the outgoing neon. cvt transmissions interest me little, i drive manual if it is available. four wheel drive does not interest me either. i dont want a modern tiny gasser that gets the fuel mileage of my 30 year old diesel. the engines do come with variable valve timing which could be a good thing, but i do not understand the technology exactly.
i think they are shooting themselves in the foot offering so much so late-- the suv thing is over, people want economy, not overweight stationwagons on sterroids. they made a big mistake and allowed the neon to stagnate. its sales dropped dramatically since the 2000 model year "boringification." i also do not see them offering a coupe again; a sad day.[:(]
pricing is not available yet, but we know it cant be as affordable as the original neon. $10,500 for auto/ac? yes please. the public loved the neon when it was an honest little sedan/coupe duo. they could not build enough of them! but with the DCX thing, they have decided to move up-market and let the koreans offer affordable cars. my guess is that this car will be priced around $17,900 for one with a modicum of optional equipment. maybe less is you want no options or air conditioning.
do youall think this car will be as successful as the PT; or will it fall on its face like the matrix/vibe? is it a worthwhile successor to the affordable(and in its time, the largest, most powerful car in its class; let alone at the lowest priced) and spunky neon?