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Caliber drop, Tiger Shark update

by David Zatz on

Earlier this week, we noted that the Dodge Caliber’s buildout date has been scheduled for late 2011. Not coincidentally, a new car is expected for December 2011, perhaps coinciding with the debut of the Tiger Shark engines.

As previously noted, Tiger Shark is an upgrade to the current World Gas Engine (WGE) created under Daimler’s leadership. Reportedly inexpensive to build, the WGE responded very well to turbocharging, but many were critical of its tuning and aural properties, complaining of having to rev too high and sounds like a troubled lawnmower. While current versions of the 2.4 engine seem more satisfactory, Tiger Shark ejects the Mercedes-based dual variable valve timing system and existing heads for a brand new top end, taking advantage of Fiat’s MultiAir.

Horsepower estimates have been ranging from 195 to 240 horsepower, and we suspect it will be towards the low end — around 200 horsepower. That’s not much more than the current 2.4, but we believe it will provide a much smoother power curve, with far more low-end torque and superior gas mileage.

Retooling at the Dundee (Michigan) plant has reportedly begun. The plant is currently making around 1,800 WGE engines per day on two shifts, with Fiat engine production at around 600 per day on one and a half shifts. The turbocharged 1.4 is also set for the North American Fiat 500 Abarth.

The new car is likely to be the Dodge compact, tentatively dubbed Dodge Hornet (a name has been chosen but not released.) Three engines are likely, the Fiat 1.4 liter turbo four, a standard WGE (either 2.0 or 2.4), and the Tiger Shark for a hot sports model. The car may not be unveiled until early 2012, as a 2013 model.

A turbocharged version is likely, eventually, as an SRT project. The Caliber SRT4 reached 285 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, around the same as the 3.6 liter Pentastar V6.

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