1 Jul 1996
By CHRIS HARRIS
Daimler Benz purchased Chrysler in 1998, resulting in a name change to DaimlerChrysler.
Chrysler worked hard to create a distinctive, appealing small car that was inexpensive, even against the burgeoning South Korean competition.
The resulting Neon certainly achieved that, with its spacious friendly-faced cab-forward design, responsive front-wheel drive handling and innovative low-cost build methods.
But it seems Australians mistrusted the American brand after a 16-year absence and sales never achieved their intended targets.
Medium car levels of interior room (the wheelbase was longer even than the wide-bodied Camry of the day) made for compact family car motoring that was augmented by a large boot.
A gutsy 98kW 2.0-litre single-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine provided plenty of performance with the five-speed manual gearbox, although the durable but old-fashioned three-speed automatic met some buyer (and critical) resistance.
The base SE model featured dual front airbags, air-conditioning, central locking, power steering and power mirrors. The LX added anti-lock brakes, fog lights and front power windows.