New Car/Review

1997 EAGLE TALON BASE MODEL

by Matt/Bob Hagin

Eagle
SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 14,059
     Price As Tested                                    $ 15,850
     Engine Type                            2.0 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                               121.8 cid/1996 cc
     Horsepower                                   140 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               130 @ 4800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   98.8"/68.7"/174.9"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     2767 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  16.9 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                    P195/70HR14
     Brakes (F/R)                                      Disc/drum
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 70 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.29

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            22/33/27
     0-60 MPH                                        9.2 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     16.9 seconds @ 84.6 mph
     Top speed                                    (est.) 125 mph
     * Sequential multiport fuel injection

(The Eagle brand has been an underrated member of the Chrysler clan since it came on line in 1987. Matt Hagin thinks that the new Eagle Talon is unsuitable for a family and his dad agrees. "It's a sports car," says Bob Hagin, "and it covers the field from mild to wild.")

BOB - The Eagle Talon is a niche car that's too "special" for most buyers, especially if they want to carry anything bigger than an overnight bag and a tooth brush. It's a sports car, plain and simple, and appeals to the driver who wants to be a couple of notches ahead of the "commuter corps" of four-door sedan chauffeurs. It's brash and boppy but it isn't going to appeal to anybody who plans to do much double- dating. The back seat is a good place to carry groceries except that getting in and out of it is a task best left to the young and agile.

MATT - And this Base model Talon is the one that's best suited to young first-time new car sports car buyers, Dad. Its profile is the high-tail, high beltline look that's common with modern sports coupes and it's nose is low and assertive-looking. It could do without the superfluous "spoiler" on the trunk lid since it doesn't serve any purpose except to get in the way when it's time to wash the car. All the Talon coupes have the same body and it's just a matter of performance options that differentiates the Base model from the hot-rod TSi versions. The top of the Talon line is the turbocharged TSi all-wheel- drive model that puts out 210 horsepower and handles like a Le Mans race car, so its suspension is more performance tuned. Our Base Talon carries the 2.0 liter twin-cam four cylinder Chrysler engine that puts out 140 horsepower and 130 pound/feet of torque, which makes the car peppy enough for decent acceleration. Sometimes, however, it takes a bit of clutch-slipping and practice to get the shifting technique down. Unless a buyer is determined to get the last ounce of performance out of it, I think that the four-speed automatic is the best bet.

BOB - I don't think that it would affect the fuel mileage much, either. The Talon gets an extra bit of mileage out of its slippery profile Matt, since it carries a low 0.29 coefficient of drag. The suspension is fairly sophisticated, too, with double wishbone control arms and a half-inch sway bar up front and a multi-link system in back with coil springs. It's front-wheel drive, of course, and the power steering is engine-speed variable which tightens up a bit at speed to give better road-feel. The TSi versions have disc brakes in back, but our Base model was equipped with drum brakes in the rear. I'd prefer discs in the rear myself and I'm a little disappointed that anti-skid brakes aren't even offered as an option on this model.

MATT - I can understand the seats being manually-operated since this is the entry-level model but I guess that I've been spoiled by powered outside mirrors. The driver has to reach across the passenger's seat to adjust the right outside mirror so I guess that our Talon was built to be a one-driver car. And maybe I drove too many "beaters" in my earlier days, Dad. I'm never happy with those tinker-toy spare tires, I like a full-sized spare tire and wheel in the trunk and according to the info packet we got from Chrysler, none of the Talon models have full-sized spare tires, not even the superfast TSi with all-wheel-drive.

BOB - Nothing's perfect, Matt, and I know that you feel that the interior of the Talon is cramped, but I like the sports car "feel" of a tight driver's position. The seats have good side support and give the driver and passenger a secure feeling. The round tach and speedometer are right in front of the driver and the rest of the controls are on a control panel that blends down into the center console. The car we had carried a pretty basic sound system, but for true sound buffs, Eagle has a selection of units as long as your arm. But there's a modern item that was missing from the Base model Talons: the ever-present cup holder that are not available on the base models. I never thought I'd say it, but I find it hard to drink coffee and drive without having a cup holder.

MATT - In retrospect, Dad, maybe the guys over at Chrysler are trying to tell you something.

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