2013 DODGE DART
It has been a properly long time since US brand Dodge has had anything exciting to offer its Australian customers, that's a fact. Things could change soon however, if Dodge's local arm gets its hands on the all-new Dart.
Taking over the place of the now-dead Caliber compact SUV - and as a true successor to the Neon that the Caliber replaced in 2006 - the new small sedan brings a sharp new look to the well-rested Dart name.
Dodge has yet to reveal all the details on its new rival for the Ford Focus and Chevrolet/Holden Cruze (not to mention the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf and dozens more), with these latest images arriving courtesy of a security leak.
It is known however that the new Dart shares its platform with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, thanks to the Chrysler Group's new owner, Fiat.
Engine options are expected to include a trio of four-cylinder petrol units, including a 120kW 2.0 litre, a 137kW 2.4 litre, and Fiat's turbo-charged 120kW MultiAir 1.4 litre engine.
The Fiat parts-sourcing continues with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a six-speed manual, and ZF's new nine-speed automatic is also on the cards.
According to Fiat and Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne, the combination of its MultiAir technology and the six-speed auto will give the Dart a low fuel consumption figure of 5.8 l/100km on the combined cycle.
On the styling front, the new Dart is very much a Charger Junior, with the company's new crosshair grille design and a wide ring of LED lighting at the rear end.
While an Australian debut for the Dart has yet to be confirmed (the car's unveiling is still some hours away), it is likely that the new small car will arrive sometime in 2013 to fill the void left by the retired Caliber.
The Dart has a history in Australia, where it was originally offered in the form of the Dodge Phoenix. A later version of the car appeared as the Chrysler Valiant VF and VG coupe.
The all-new Dart may share little with its forebears, but it could prove a welcome offering in Australia's strong-selling small and medium car segments.