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Detroit show: Dodge drip-feeds Dart data

Illuminations: The Dodge Dart’s interior features piped lighting, bathing occupants in an ambient glow and giving the impression of a floating instrument cluster.

Renderings of Detroit-bound Dodge Dart interior show US brand is bang up to date

Dodge logo15 Dec 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

TWO new teaser images of the new Dodge Dart have emerged from the US brand ahead of its Detroit show debut in January, this time revealing parts of what is shaping up to be a luxurious, high-tech interior for the Alfa-Romeo Giulietta-based compact sedan.

Dodge claims a class-leading 8.4 inches for the multi-function touch-screen display, which complements the customisable seven-inch digital instrument cluster, which appears to float inside a ring of ambient lighting if the ‘racetrack’ illumination option is selected.

The lighting package extends illumination across the dashboard and around the central screen and is also applied to the door handles, map pockets, footwells, glove compartment, cup holders and storage binsTaking cues from European cars such as the Mini, Skoda’s Fabia and Yeti, Citroen’s DS range and the Range Rover Evoque, Dodge will offer “thousands of ways” to customise the Dart across its three engine and transmission choices.

A dozen exterior paint options, 14 interior colour and trim combinations and six wheel styles will be extended by “hundreds” of Dart-specific Mopar personalisation products.

41 center imageThe two computer-generated images – which judging by the exterior shots are of the premium R/T variant – show luxurious-looking trim across the double-stitched leather dashboard, with classy metallic black surrounds for the instrument panel and multi-function display.

Dodge says the soft-touch interior materials and onboard technology help “set a new standard for compact cars” and provide “unexpected delights for both drivers and passengers”.

Its lengthened, widened Giulietta underpinnings – dubbed Compact US Wide (CUSW) – and a body construction consisting of 68 per cent high-strength steel should ensure a good crash safety rating, bolstered by the inclusion of no fewer than 10 airbags.

Dodge says the Dart will also be the only car in its class to offer both blind-spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, while providing segment-leading hip and shoulder room for occupants, with interior space rivalling that of cars from the next size category.

Further nods to practicality – and the iPod generation – are a glove compartment that can conceal an iPad, auxiliary jacks in the centre console for attaching “a wide variety of electronic devices” plus pockets for storing small items such as mobile phones, stationery and receipts.

As GoAuto reported last week when the first exterior teaser images were issued, Chrysler Group Australia is keen to import the car, which should arrive in 2013 if right-hand drive production is confirmed and a business case for the car can be made here.

Although the Dart will first emerge as a sedan, a hatch is expected to follow for markets outside the US, helping it to compete against small-segment rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.

Engines will include Alfa Romeo’s 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo-petrol unit, plus new US-sourced 2.0-litre Tigershark and 2.4-litre World Gas (petrol) units, the latter fitted with Fiat’s MultiAir induction system to boost low-end torque by 15 per cent while reducing fuel consumption by 7.5 per cent and CO2 emissions by 10 per cent.

Dodge says the Dart four-door is more of a replacement for the Chrysler Neon that sold slowly in Australia between 1996 and 2002.

Australian Dodge sales are up 51.9 per cent this year to 2499 sales to the end of November, resulting from a 902.7 per cent increase sales of the Caliber five-door crossover, no doubt stimulated by June’s 21.7 per cent price cut from $30,000 to $23,500.

The Caliber, which arrived Down Under in 2006, will remain available here in sole 2.0-litre petrol SXT specification until production ceases in 2012.

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