2016 Dodge Barracuda / Avenger: rumored midsize, rear-drive muscle car
For well over a year, there has been talk of a new mid-sized rear-drive car for Dodge and Alfa Romeo, eventually confirmed in mid-2013 by Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne himself.
The “D-RWD” platform will give Dodge a muscle car sized closer to the Camaro and Mustang, while bolstering Alfa Romeo credibility; Automotive News’ Luce Ciferra wrote that it will replace the planned front-drive Giulia. D-RWD is, we believe, a joint project, centered in Auburn Hills, with embedded Fiat/Alfa engineers; the Alfa Romeo version has a small, dedicated team in Italy.
The original plan, confirmed by Ralph Gilles, was to create a 2014 Barracuda SRT8 based on the new Challenger. The 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi, rated at 707 hp, remains and is used in the 2015 Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger.
Now come the big questions: will this car be produced as a Dodge? And will it really be called Barracuda?
A new D-segment, rear wheel drive 2015 Dodge Barracuda or Avenger would give Dodge cars a natural size range: Dart, Avenger/Barracuda, Challenger, Charger. Sergio Marchionne said that the Alfa would be made possible by having a Dodge counterpart. Thus, the Dodge, presumably with a standard Pentastar V6, is a given.
As for the name — In June 2013, we were told that the name Barracuda had been dropped, after enthusiasts were less than enthusiastic about re-use of the name by Dodge, on a car that bore little outward resemblance to the original; we expect Avenger to be revived instead. Our original thought that Avenger would be continued, or that a provisional Avenger would be based on 200 until the rear-drive model was ready — both thoughts based on a rumor started by the Detroit Free Press — now appears to be incorrect.
In 2012, we were told that Barracuda styling was already in progress, with inside reports saying it was much more modern than the Challenger, with only a few “Barracuda cues.” In April 2013, we were told that some body parts were being made for testing.
The original Plymouth Barracuda was not a muscle car at first; a Valiant with a fastback rear, Barracuda was praised for its fine “European style” handling. Some critics said the Formula S version could beat comparable German cars on twists and turns. In 1970, the name was moved over to a brand new car, largely so Plymouth could stuff the big 440 and 426 Hemi engines into it; ironically, the Plymouth Duster, which had the same formula as the older Barracudas, was a major sales success... with nothing larger than a 340 under the hood.