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Pundits catching up to D-RWD cars

by David Zatz on

Back in April, we reported that Ralph Gilles had essentially confirmed the SRT Barracuda’s arrival on a different platform than the Challenger:

The new Barracuda will share its platform architecture with an all-new 5 Series-sized Alfa Romeo sedan that will be a key car for the relaunch of the Alfa brand in the U.S. … by 2016. I’m betting the Barracuda will also appear around that timeframe. Pure speculation, but both cars may have been pushed back because the Fiat Group is bleeding in Europe due to the collapse of the market there and Marchionne is trying to conserve money.

Recently, both the UK’s Car magazine and Automotive News have said that a rear wheel drive platform for Alfa Romeo was on its way. This had been discussed semi-publicly for months before Gilles’ statement, with Sergio Marchionne commenting that a rear wheel drive, mid-sized Alfa Romeo was made possible by being able to share costs with Dodge.

We no longer believe the new car will be called Barracuda, because of the modern styling and the non-existence of Plymouth, but whether it’s called Avenger or Magnum or Argon, we believe it is on the way — will be midsized — and will have room for the supercharged 6.2 liter V8 Hemi, though Alfa is unlikely to use that powerplant. We think Alfa will stick with the Maserati-Ferrari twin-turbocharged V6, whose roots are, we believe, in the Chrysler Pentastar V6; and that it will also use the Ghibli-style VM diesel, in both cases hooked up to the Chrysler version of the ZF eight-speed automatic.

The two cars will, to lower development costs, be jointly engineered, with the primary differences being sheet metal, interior styling, engines, and suspension tuning. The Dodge may have a larger engine bay to accommodate the V8; though this adds a great deal of cost to the design work, it also helps differentiate the Alfa, which would be lighter in weight (partly due to the use of more expensive materials, partly due to the smaller engine bay).

The “D-RWD” platform being created would apparently not have been possible for Alfa Romeo alone, given the high-end brand’s low volumes, but sharing with Dodge and SRT makes the deal possible. Some have speculated that the car will be based on the extended CUSW platform used for Chrysler 200, to make it easier to build in existing plants; the ideal would be assembly-line compatibility with 200 and Dart, so the car could run off the line in Sterling Heights, Belvidere, or Toledo North, depending on whose product was least popular at the time. The Alfa Romeo will most likely be built in Italy.

Automotive News claimed that the decision has not been made yet. That is possible, but we believe that it has been made, since it has been made practically inevitable by Sergio Marchionne’s decision to reposition Fiat brands and establish Alfa Romeo as a credible BMW competitor.

Car did not deign to mention Chrysler, only mentioning sharing with Maserati and Ferrari. Automotive News not only mentioned Chrysler, but suggested it could be made by Chrysler and based on the CUSW platform.

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