The future of Fiat Chrysler’s rear-wheel drive range looks set to take divergent paths, with Dodge set to create next-generation versions of the Charger sedan and Challenger coupe from the underpinnings of the Maserati Ghibli, while the next Chrysler 300 will evolve its current platform.
As reported by Automotive News in the US, the most recent change of direction represents yet another change in strategy for Dodge’s large rear- hero cars, which were initially mooted to adopt the more modern Giorgio platform used by the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
The new plan will also put the introduction of a new Charger and Challenger back to a 2021 release date, with the current model already showing their age having been initially introduced in 2006 and 2008 respectively.
To help maintain buyer interest in the ageing pair, Dodge is set to introduce a relatively minor refresh in 2019, and will continue to introduce enthusiast-focussed special editions like the high-powered Hellcat and Demon variants.
While the Dodge models currently share their LX chassis with the Chrysler 300, going forward to two are set to part ways, despite Chrysler’s original intention to create its own adaptation of the Giorgio chassis for the next 300.
Instead Chrysler will take the existing platform and introduce a major rework in 2019, focussing on reducing weight to allow a new turbocharged four-cylinder base engine to run alongside a reworked V6 with fuel economy improvements set as a major developmental target.
With a more comprehensive chassis rework planned for the next-generation 300, no all-new version, either twinned with Maserati or Alfa Romeo is likely to appear on the same timeline as the Dodge models.
Before the current 300 disappears, Chrysler is likely to add a farewell special edition to range, powered the 522kW/868Nm supercharged 6.2-litre Hellcat V8 as seen in the Charger and Challenger, though the lack of right-hand drive versions of those two vehicles means that the Australian market could be considered too low volume for a run of Hellcat-powered 300s, although the introduction of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powered by the same engine does leave a glimmer of hope.
Similarly, the future platform plans for the Dodge Challenger and Charger mean that right-hand drive development work for the Maserati Ghibli could be carried over to the new Dodge models. However with the Dodge brand currently on hiatus, future local planning still requires confirmation.