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Detroit show: Dodge ‘darts’ out early

Out: Images of the forthcoming Dodge Dart small sedan have been leaked ahead of the car's official reveal at the Detroit show this week.

‘Spoil-sports’ leak Dodge Dart images as Chrysler warms up for Detroit show reveal

Dodge logo9 Jan 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

EMBARGO busters appear to have taken the shine off Chrysler's big moment at the North American International Motor Show by leaking images of the new Dodge Dart small sedan ahead of the official unveiling.

The pictures, which were given to some news outlets ahead of the event on the condition that they be kept under wraps, burst on to the internet in the United States on Saturday.

Chrysler Group had already teased images of some portions of the car, along with many of the details, but its publicity gurus had hoped to hold back the overall picture until its official unveiling in Detroit.

As GoAuto has reported, the Cruze-sized Dart is built on parent company Fiat Group's Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, although stretched a little wider and longer and called Compact US Wide (CUSW) to create a new architecture that will provide the basis for a number of new models in the next few years.

American reports describe the Dart – the first full collaboration between Chrysler and Fiat since the latter took control of the bankrupt American company during the global financial crisis – as a replacement for the Dodge Caliber, but Chrysler says it is more of a spiritual successor to the Chrysler Neon.

41 center imageChrysler Australia has expressed interest in importing the Dart from the US where it will be made in Michigan, but ahead of the show the local subsidiary was saying a business case still had to be made.

The challenge will be to import the car from the US at the right price against a raft of low-cost small cars, including the Australian-assembled Holden Cruze.

If a right-hand-drive model gets the nod, it will probably arrive in Australian showrooms in 2013.

Unlike the low-tech Neon, the Dart will get some of Fiat's best technology, including Fiat's MultiAir valve control.

The four engines on offer will include the award-winning 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.

Three transmissions will be offered in the Dart, which takes its name from a famous series of American-made models between 1960 and 1975.

While the Dart is expected to appear at the show only in four-door sedan form, a five-door hatchback is also expected to follow.

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