We hope this car will add to the company’s recent success (sales are up 24 percent this year), just two years after it looked like roadkill.
We told you something about this car in September, but new details have emerged. It will be called the Dart, not Hornet. The original Dart embodied one of Chrysler’s better (though very staid) longstanding production runs, from 1960 to 1976. Like many Chrysler-haters, some of us used to convert its name to begin with “F.”
The new Dart “will offer three 16-valve four-cylinder engine choices: A pair of new 2.0 and 2.4-liter engines codenamed Tigershark or a FIAT-developed 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir four-cylinder.” Some teaser images, which you see here, are popping up on the Web.
Automotive News says the transmission will be a dual-clutch 6-speed, to be followed later with a 9-speed built by ZF in South Carolina. The Dart will be built in Chrysler’s Belvidere, Ill., plant on FIAT’s CUSW platform, widened and stretched from the Giulietta—along with eight other new cars (including the Jeep Liberty)—and should be on sale in the first half of 2012. More details forthcoming in Detroit.
It replaces, thank God, the despicable Caliber and typifies what CEO Sergio Marchionne has done to revive Chrysler. In October, Chrysler sales “jumped 27% vs. 2% for GM and 6% for Ford.” In May, the company paid back the full $7.6 billion it owed to the U.S. and Canadian governments, six years before it was due.
The key has been the integration with FIAT, though not everything has gone smoothly, and sales of the 500 appear to be stumbling. But the new Dart will finally give Chrysler some competition for the Ford Focus and the Chevy Cruze. That is no easy market, but the Dart should offer something very different from its competitors.
We’re hoping it reflects more of the Alfa influence than just its platform. Stay tuned for the reviews.
How many of you remember the old Dart? Did you own one? Chrysler had a very good run with it.