Unofficial Picture: 2013 Dodge Dart

Dodge has pulled the sheet off of its new Alfa Romeo–based 2013 compact car and announced that it will be called Dart. Set to debut in January at the Detroit auto show, the Dart features three engines and three transmission options and aggressive styling reminiscent of the larger Charger. We’ve only got one question: How do you say “Dart” in Italian? Actually, it’s a three-part question: Wouldn’t you rather say “Demon” in Italian? Or “Hornet”?

If the resurrected Dart name had you daydreaming of late-1960s Mopar muscle, we’ll stop you right here. The 2013 Dart rides on a front-wheel-drive platform adapted from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Compared to the Giulietta, the Dart is wider and longer, its new architecture dubbed Compact U.S. Wide. Don’t let all of the air out of the Fun Balloon quite yet; the small Alfa is a fine driver’s car (you can read our drive of a 2010 Giulietta here).

The Dart’s appearance at least fulfills Dodge’s sportiness claims. The company released just two images of an up-level R/T model, but what’s visible is very Charger-like. The front wears a crosshair grille stuffed into a large, blacked-out cutout and flanked by swept-back headlights. The rear is basically a downsized rendition of the Charger’s, complete with a full-width LED taillight treatment and dual exhaust outlets. As opposed to many others in its segment—as well as its Caliber predecessor—the Dart will exist only as a four-door. Dodge has given no indication that a hatchback is in the works. An image of the interior will be released on December 13, according to a mini-site set up for the Dart, but our spy photographers already took a peek inside.

When it goes on sale sometime in 2012, the Dart will offer three different inline-fours. There will be a 2.0-liter, a turbocharged 1.4-liter Multiair, and a 2.4-liter Multiair. The naturally aspirated 2.0- and 2.4-liters are both members of Chrysler’s new engine family, which it calls—please keep giggling to a minimum—Tigershark. Modernized evolutions of Chrysler’s current global 2.0- and 2.4-liter fours, which make 158 and 173 hp, respectively, both should have direct injection. The turbo is likely the same unit as is found in the U.S.-spec Fiat 500 Abarth. We expect the 2.0-liter to make around 160 hp, the turbo 1.4-liter to produce about 170—but deliver better fuel economy than the 2.0—and the 2.4 to perhaps touch 200 horses.

Dodge also is mum on what transmissions will back the engines, although it says three gearboxes will be offered. A five- or six-speed manual is a given, and while initial reports said that Fiat's dual-clutch automatic wasn't headed to the U.S. any time soon, now Chrysler tells us that the trans is ready for small-car duty. The new ZF nine-speed automatic probably will join the lineup a bit later. We’ll have to wait until the Detroit show for all of the Dart’s details, but it looks as though Dodge has an attractive and modern small car on its hands (sorry, Caliber). We’re just waiting for the SRT4 version—or, wait.
Thanks to: Car and Driver


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