Dart Name Revived for New Chrysler Compact

New Dodge Dart, front

Chrysler will show its new Dart, based on the Alfa Giulietta platform, live at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

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.

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New Dodge Hornet to Be Based on Alfa Giulietta

Dodge Alfa Hornet, front

The transformation has finally begun: Dodge is dropping the dreadful Caliber, and in its place comes a new car, probably named the Hornet and based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

The photo above (by KGP Photography) shows a car with something like the Giulietta shape, though the front-end treatment is new. Absolutely anything would be better than the Caliber, which Kurt Ernst nominated “worst domestic car of the past decade.” But FIAT appears finally to be bringing something truly worthwhile to the American market.

According to various web sources, the car will come in 4- and 5-door versions, with a FIAT 1.4-liter MultiAir engine producing 168 hp or, for the lead-footed, a 232-hp, 1.8-liter turbo, used in the Giulietta QV. The car is likely to have either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.

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Design Woes Keep Alfa Romeo from U.S. Until 2013

2009 Alfa Romeo MiTo

Alfa Romeo MiTo

In the past, Chrysler designers could draw up a vehicle of questionable design, get it signed off by management, see it hit the production lines and then watch it languish on dealer lots.

The fact that the cars sold only to retirees and rental companies was a job for the marketing department, not the designers.

Thankfully for everyone, those days are ending, thanks to a harsh CEO who expects nothing less than greatness and won’t accept another sub-par design.

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