Wednesday, December 07, 2011

2013 Dodge Dart
The Compact makes a Comeback

Ever since the demise of the Neon, Dodge and Chrysler have been without a true compact car. The Fiat takeover deal includes a provision that Fiat gets an additional 5% of Chrysler if Fiat can bring a US-produced car capable of 40 MPG highway. They think they have that in the 2012 Dodge Dart which will be officially introduced at the Detroit Auto Show in a few weeks. This week the Dart was teased to the media. Once again, the mail carrier misplaced my invitation.

The Dart will be union-made in the USA at Chrysler's Belvidere, Illinois Plant, which will get an expansion for the project. This is the plant that has been making the slow-selling Dodge Caliber. The Dart will use Fiat technology and will be based on the Alfa Romeo Guilietta, though Chrysler says the Dart will be longer and wider than the Alfa upon which the Dart is based. It has been a long time since Alfa has been sold in the US. What do US car buyer have to look forward to? Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson is an Alfa Romeo fan, once stating:

You cannot be a true petrolhead until you've owned an Alfa ???- until you've experienced that rollercoaster of pain, disappointment, and agony for that brief moment when everything works and you're on a nice road"


Alfa's are designed to be the best a car can be.... briefly

The compact Dodge Dart will offer three engines to start in the US. It will have tweaked versions of the 2.0 and 2.4 engines that are now used in the Dodge Caliber, but the engine that has the attention of the car wonks is the Fiat 1.4 liter multi-air turbo engine. This engine, the same one as in the Fiat 500 Abarth, is expected to deliver around 150 to 160 hp in initial trim. Manual and dual-clutch automatic 6-speed transmissions will be initially available. An advanced automatic with more gears and a CVT might be available later.

The Chrysler fanboys at are so excited about the Dart that they started a new site dedicated to the Dart alone. The new site is

For a marginally-related video, I couldn't find any Top Gear roadtests of the Guilietta, but I did find one from Top Gear's poorer cousin, Fifth Gear.

I also found a video of Jay Leno's test of the Fiat 500 Abarth, which should be available in the US anytime now.

1 comment:

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