There are certain classes and sizes of cars that simply lend themselves better to certain body styles. Midsize cars lend themselves well to the conventional "three box" sedan shape. But much smaller than that, a well-designed hatchback simply looks more elegant. U.S. compact segment sales are dominated by conventional four-door sedans, with the two top-sellers, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, offered only as notchbacks in the U.S. Knowing the predominant sales patterns doesn't make us like hatchbacks any less, though, and we always applaud new entries into the segment. The China-only Fiat Ottimo caught our attention for the potential it shows for a five-door Dodge Dart, from Chinese auto site PCAuto.com.cn.
Aside from the Fiat badge in the middle of the grille, the lines of the Ottimo are clearly that of the Dart, which is sold in China as the Fiat Viaggio, with some slick five-door styling from the B-pillar back. While we still think the 2014 Mazda 3 hatch takes the beauty prize in the segment, the Ottimo is not far behind, and we see it as a worthy potential addition to the Dart's U.S. lineup. The Ottimo is powered by one of two versions of Fiat's 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo engine, one producing 120 hp and the other 150 hp. The rationale for building the Ottimo? Taking advantage of the under-utilized plant capacity at the Guangzhou-Fiat plant.
Our dream Ottimo, or "Dart Touring" if you will, would have Fiat's 2.0-liter turbodiesel I-4 with 160 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed manual. But at least for the time being, we'll have to admire this Far East treat from afar. What do you think? Should Dodge offer a hatchback version of the Dart in the U.S.?