The last truly successful and competitive Fiat Chrysler sedan was the Dodge Neon, and according to one source familiar with the plan but not associated with the automaker, FCA will try to recapture some of that old glory. On the heels of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart getting the axe, the Fiat Tipo-based Dodge Neon known to be destined for Mexico will also make its way across the Rio Grande into U.S. showrooms.
Word circulated a few months back that the Turkish-built Fiat Tipo (or Egea in Turkey) would be rebadged for Mexico as the Dodge Neon. It’s been on sale in Europe since 2015 as a sedan, but Fiat added a hatchback and station wagon for 2016 as well.
The Tipo is a cheap, C-segment front-wheel-drive compact that uses a range of gas and diesel four-cylinder engines mated to six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions. Using the Tipo would be consistent with CEO Sergio Marchionne’s vocal commitment to cut capital expenditures by building as many compact and midsize cars as he can off of existing platforms.
Marchionne had expressed a desire to partner with another automaker to build new versions of the doomed Dart and 200, but one could easily see the Neon/Tipo project as a kind of “outsourcing” within the FCA family. On top of that, it makes sense to revive the Neon name given its still-strong equity compared to the Dart name, which many would contend has dried up given the disappointing sales of that car.
On the other hand it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as far as what we’ve heard about the future of the Dodge brand. In Marchionne’s 2014 five-year-plan, Dodge looked like it was going to steer its lineup toward performance cars so Chrysler could focus on mainstream products. At the time Marchionne said Alfa Romeo would share its rear-wheel-drive platform with Dodge to build new, downsized versions of the Charger and Challenger, as well as a rumored Barracuda convertible.
We’ve reached out to Fiat Chrysler for comment, but have yet to hear back as of this writing, and we’ll keep an ear out for more updates as the story continues to develop.