Since Fiat's acquisition of Chrysler in 2009, there has endless talk of how the new Italian owners would overhaul the American company's lineup. We're already seeing some of the byproducts in the form of the 2013 Dodge Dart, 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and 2013 SRT Viper. Next up? The Chrysler 200, and, according to a new report, Chrysler chief designer Ralph Gilles has promised a "beautiful and relevant vehicle."
Gilles promises WardsAuto that the next-generation 200 will "share no surface language with any Chrysler we've ever seen." Various Chrysler executives have promised over and over that the next 200 will finally shed its Sebring past and become a true competitor in the midsize sedan class.
Based on Fiat-Chrysler's previous product plans, we know that when the new Chrysler 200 appears next year, it will share the same CUSW underpinnings as the Dart. That platform is a widened and lengthened version of Alfa Romeo's compact platform found under the Giulietta hatchback. Not much more is known about the new 200 – including whether or not it will remain a sedan, become a hatchback, or turn into a slinky four-door coupe – but expect it to use the same nine-speed automatic transmission that will debut in the 2014 Jeep Liberty later this year. That transmission is also slated for the Dart, so it makes logical sense that, since it rides on the same platform as the Dodge and the Jeep, would receive the transmission as well. According to Wards, the Dodge Avenger twin of the Chrysler 200 will be discontinued, but we've previously reported that Dodge will receive a midsize crossover in the Avenger's place.
Chrysler's compacts aren’t the only vehicles to be receiving Alfa Romeo DNA. We reported this week after speaking with Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne that a follow-up to the Dodge Challenger is in the works. That car would share its rear-wheel drive platform with Alfa's BMW 3 Series-fighter, meaning that the new car would be smaller than the current Challenger.
What isn’t known, however, is what badge that car might wear. We’ve heard some scuttlebutt that the car could move to the SRT brand, where it would be known as the Barracuda – a name Plymouth used on its Ford Mustang competitor from 1964-1969, and on its version of the Challenger from 1970-1974. However, there’s some talk the Challenger name may remain in place. “We’re reinvesting in the Challenger,” Wards quotes Gilles as saying. “A lot of people are saying ‘Oh, the Challenger is going to die and go away’ – no. We’re taking care of a brand that has served us very well."
You tell us – what name should win? Is there room for both a Barracuda and Challenger in Chrysler’s lineup, or does one need to be vastly different from the other? Sound off your thoughts in the comments section below.