Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dodge makes an AMC?

Not quite, although the new Dodge concept sealing all of the headlines in the mini-subcompact market (think Scion xB/xA) is named after the old AMC Hornet and the cheep as all get out way of thinking is the same, that’s all these two cars share. The Dodge Hornet is a tiny little Scion fighter that will give the competition a lot to worry about. Dodge has been blitzing the market with new cars, trucks, and minivans for years now, starting with the Dodge Ram 1500, then the 300C and Magnum, with the charger coming in a little later. On the much higher end of things, is the wonderful little crossfire which is built on the old M-B CLK, and the Pacifica built on the same platform as the M-B Rclass. Now there are three new concepts, two of which DCX admits will be built; the Dodge Nitro a crossover built from the Jeep Liberty and the Caliber compact 5-door (which will also have a Jeep twin).

I have tried not to post anything on this car because I feel as though if Dodge is really serious about competing with Scion, then it needs to dedicate a brand to doing it. Don't forget that Scion is really Toyoda. Has DCX thought about bring back the Plymouth brand back from the dead, or will Dodge and Chrysler continue to produce a range of cars from less then 15K (the neon) to just under 100K (the Viper)? Anyway, with that aside, I love this little pocket rocket!

I normally don’t like these buzzy little things, I feel like there are too many civics and c-something-x's around buzzing with turbo's way too big for their engine and causing my eardrums to ring for the rest of the day. When I saw this concept, I wrote it off as just another nitch vehicle and looked at the Caliber and Nitro closer to see if they can touch my Protege5 (we covered why I own one so don't say anything). But this thing, with all of the press coverage and the crowds around the dodge booth the nitro (even if Dodge says otherwise) will now be built. It's not the first time this happened... the Corvette, the ssR, the new Camaro, the Blackwood, the GTO and many more came into the spot light; some did well, others died almost as soon as the show was over.

This little car is not yet intended for sale in the US and is marketed for the small Euro segment of the dodge brand. If you ever go to Europe, look at just how small the cars are over there... Don't forget that the compact segment was new to America when Honda's and Toyoda's started to wash up on our shores. Before then if you asked an American (after he got out of his looooooong Impala, or Galaxy 500 XL) what a compact car is he would most likely say a car that got hit from the front and the back.

Ok, enough making fun of this car, now for the good stuff, and why I think dodge might want to try to sell this car here in America. First... it's good looks. Yes, I am a modernist, and as a design student at Arizona State University, I can say this car look sexy! It is a box at its best. There is always something to say when a small car is not ashamed to say "look at me! I'm a small car, and I will kick you ass!" This is one of those cars, it has a small engine, but it uses a supper or maybe a turbo charger to get fast times on the track. I don’t have any numbers, but in a video from AutoBlog, this thing looks like is wants to move.

If a box can ever look fast while it is stopped, this one does it, and does it well. The wide fender flares and upright grille make this car look like it just got back from basic training and wants to go fight a war! If nothing else, the nice looking concept will be dumbed down for production, and everyone (myself included) will be upset, no matter how unsurprised, when dodge unveils the production version with huge trim gaps, and shiny hard plastic which are now found on the upsetting Charger and 300C. Both of which are cars that looked nice on the turn table, but didn’t quite make it up to par in production.


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