You're looking at Dodge's new roadster concept, and you can be excused for wondering if you've seen it somewhere before. The Mazda MX-5-sized Dodge Demon draws a great deal of its proportions and visual character from both the iconic Japanese roadster and a small host of others, including Nissan's 350Z and Dodge's own Viper. The Demon is distinctly Dodge, but it's also distinctly familiar.
Still, familiarity doesn't always bode poorly. Mazda's first-generation Miata was a blatant styling update of the 1960s Lotus Elan, and that fact didn't hurt its sales one bit. And although the Demon may seem derivative, it's nevertheless good-looking. (For the record, we love it.)
Dodge claims that the Demon is intended to be an "attainable dream car" and a spiritual successor to both the original Miata and that car's British predecessors. The curb weight sits at about 2600 pounds--roughly 150 pounds heavier than the Mazda but nearly 400 pounds lighter than the Pontiac Solstice. Power comes from Chrysler's 172-hp, 2.4-liter I-4, and a six-speed manual transmission lies under the Demon's narrow center tunnel.
Most of the rear-wheel-drive roadster's underpinnings are borrowed production-line parts (Viper rear suspension, Caliber front suspension), and the simply arranged interior is peppered with corporate switchgear.
Certainly, an inexpensive roadster makes sense for the Dodge brand; despite positioning itself as DaimlerChrysler's stateside performance house, the division's only true sports car is the $85,000 Viper. And while Dodge admits that it hasn't closely examined the Demon for production feasibility, experience lends some hope--the Challenger concept was given the green light just six months after its debut, thanks largely to public reaction. Our advice to you? Start writing letters. And to Dodge? Build the sucker already.