New Car Review

1995 PLYMOUTH/DODGE NEON SPORT FOUR-DOOR SEDAN

by: BILL RUSS

In the nineties Chrysler has dared to be different. Through the use of the creative platform team concept that encompasses the total coordination of all facets of design, purchasing, construction, quality control, advertising and public relations it has introduced several new automotive products in record time. It started with the Grand Cherokee, and was followed by the Viper, the LH and LHS sedans. The compact Neon is the newest model to display Chrysler's Pentastar. This technique allowed the Neon to be brought to market in only 31 months, "less time than to age a decent bottle of wine", according to Chrysler president Bob Lutz. It was conceived and built without a foreign partner, and designed to compete in a worldwide, high-volume market segment. This was demonstrated by its world introduction at the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany. Chrysler wanted to demonstrate that America can build a small car that can be sold overseas as well as in North America

The Neon replaces the aging Shadow and Sundance models, and whether it wears the Plymouth or Dodge logo the models are identical. It was conceived to eliminate the negative aspects of small cars by utilizing the latest concepts in design, safety, handling and performance. The Neon was designed to be a compact car people will "want to own rather than have to own".

APPEARANCE: The Neon is graced with clean, simple uncluttered lines. Its cab-forward architecture and high rear deck give a family resemblance to Chrysler's LH sedan series. From the side the fairly large cabin displays an arched shape that allows a large amount of interior space plus the strength to use frameless windows on all four doors. With its distinctive oval headlamps and large air intake below the front bumper the Neon has a happy face. The Neon Sport is equipped with distinctive wheel covers and P185/65R-14 Goodyear Eagle GA all-season touring tires.

COMFORT: Interior design is an important part in making a car something people will "want to own", and Neon scores well here. Seating is quite good with firm padding and a fair amount of lateral support. All controls are logically placed, and the instruments are very readable. The upholstery is rather perky with neon colored flecks distributed throughout the seats. The Sport model is well fitted-out with power side mirrors and locks, cruise control, rear defogger, remote decklid release, a large flat trunk, fold down rear seat backs, a tilt steering column, dual cup-holders, a center armrest and fog lamps. The optional heater/air conditioner is both quiet and efficient, and the upgrade AM/FM radio provides crisp sound.

SAFETY: Besides the dual front airbags, the Neon is fitted with three-point seat belts with latch plates and retractors. The body structure is designed to retain the integrity of the cabin in the event of a collision. In addition there is built-in side impact protection, a collapsible steering column, and an optional child safety seat. Four-wheel anti-lock front disc/rear drum brakes are standard equipment.

ROADABILITY: The Neon Sport is equipped with four-wheel fully independent touring suspension and power assisted steering. This combination, along with the Goodyear Eagle touring tires, insure a firm yet compliant ride with excellent roadholding qualities that make long drives quite comfortable. Even though its a compact car it has the ride and road feel of a larger vehicle, and it is fun to drive. Chrysler devoted a lot of effort in reducing noise, vibration and harshness. The result is a very quiet ride down the road with a minimum of wind and road noise. The engine only intrudes when operating at high rpm's.

PERFORMANCE: A new four-cylinder inline engine was developed especially for the Neon. For an entry-level car it is quite a sophisticated powerplant that is rated at 132 horsepower and features four- valves-per-cylinder, single overhead cam, sequential port fuel injection and direct ignition. A smooth- shifting five speed manual gear box completes the powertrain on the Sport. Most grades can be climbed in fifth gear, with fourth being used for acceleration to pass, and third for control on tight turns.

CONCLUSION: The Neon is the latest Chrysler entry in a line of innovative new cars and pickup trucks . It is a roomy, comfortable, safe and powerful compact model that offers many of the attributes found in larger and more expensive cars. It is an economy sedan with a sports car flair.

SPECIFICATIONS:
1995 PLYMOUTH NEON SPORT FOUR-DOOR HARDTOP SEDAN

	   
	   Base Price              $  12,215
	   Price As Tested         $  13,568
	   Engine Type             I-4, sohc-16v, spfi
	   Engine Size             2.0 liter/122 cid   
	   Horsepower              132 @ 6000
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         129 @ 5000
	   Wheelbase/Length        104"/172"
	   Transmission            five speed manual w/od
	   Curb Weight             2460
	   Pounds per Horsepower   19
	   Fuel Capacity           11
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
	   Tire                    Goodyear Eagle GA P185/65R14  
	   Brake                   anti-lock standard     disc/drum
	   Drive Train             front engine/front drive
	   
	   
			 PERFORMANCE    
	   
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      29/38/34.7
	   0 to 60 mph                  8.7 sec  
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.5 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .33

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