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Dodge Dart II: The Italian job

Dodge announced a new Dart model, based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, to be unveiled at the 2012 Detroit auto show.

2013 Dodge Dart

The iconic car from an earlier era is making a comeback, sans its slant six but with an Italian twist.

A new Dodge Dart has not left the factory floor since the 1970s, when people wore bell bottoms and pointed a lot while dancing, but the model name retained its currency, kept alive by hipsters eager to roll in vintage slant six. Dodge must have realized the model still has cache, as it is launching a new car under the name at the 2012 Detroit auto show.

The new Dart, a compact, takes advantage of Dodge's Italian parent, Fiat, being built on the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Call it a Dodgey Romeo. But this is no instance of badge engineering. Dodge enlarged the platform for the new Dart, and designed a new body.

2013 Dodge Dart
Dodge calls its tail light treatment a 'racetrack' design. Dodge

The two teaser photos reveal lines that look cohesive with the design language of the Dodge Charger. A grille, in black, bookended by headlights is a nice touch, and dual exhaust pipes extend from the rear. The R/T badge on back is an indication that this model is a more powerful version than the base.

Dodge is not keeping too much secret, already specifying the available engines. A turbocharged Multi-air 1.4-liter should be similar to that used in the Fiat 500 Abarth. Dodge also announced two engines from its new Tiger Shark line, a 2-liter and 2.4-liter. The 2.4-liter uses the Multi-air variable valve timing technology from Fiat, and should produce close to 200 horsepower. None of these engines really seems to justify the dual exhausts.

As the new Dart is a compact car, it probably won't have the full range of cabin technology we saw previously in the Charger, although Dodge might surprise us here. If no navigation is available, we would expect at least a solid Bluetooth phone system and digital music sources. A big subwoofer would be a nice addition to the stereo system, as well.