Information surfaced earlier this year that there would likely be a model based on the 2013 Dodge Dart coming to the Chrysler brand, presumably called the Chrysler 100. These talks raise alarms with some critics of the American automakers after “rebadging” has led to the demise of a variety of brands including Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury and Plymouth. However, based on the inside information pertaining to the new Chrysler 100 on display at this week’s dealership convention in Las Vegas, the 100 will sport a 5-door hatchback design along with exterior and interior changes to allow the Chrysler model to be far more than a rebadged Dart.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is a compact sedan with an aggressive exterior design and a refined – yet sporty – interior layout packed with high tech gadgets. The Chrysler 100 will differentiate itself from the Dart most noticeably with the 5th door added out back atop an elongated roofline but we can also expect that the 100 will have a front end design that is more luxury and less sport. Even though the 100 will ride on the same Compact US Wide chassis platform as the Dart, the hatchback design and a unique front end with vastly different headlights and grille design would make the two hard to connect for those who don’t know any better. We have seen the Chrysler Group’s ability to essentially disguise the similarities between two closely related vehicles with the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200 so when the Chrysler 100 arrives – I would expect that it will look nothing like a “rebadged Dart”.
Inside, the Chrysler 100 should benefit from the level of technology offered in the 2013 Dodge Dart including the massive 8.4” infotainment touch screen and the 7” TFT gauge cluster display. These features work nicely towards the Dart’s sporty approach but as we have seen in a variety of current luxury models – those high end gadgets will be right at home in a compact luxury car. Replacing the contrasting colors and sport designed interior features in place of piano black and silver trim along with gobs of leather and the Dart interior will easily transform into a luxury layout.
What could prove to be the most interesting aspect of the Chrysler 100 is the drivetrain options. The 2013 Dodge Dart comes with a pair of naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engines measuring 2.0 and 2.4 liters along with the powerful yet efficient 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder Fiat engine. We can almost certainly expect to see the 1.4L turbo motor under the hood of the Chrysler 100 as that is the most efficient engine in the lineup but you have to wonder whether or not the 100 will offer the standard 6-speed manual transmission that comes with the turbo Dart sedans or if the 100 will stick to the optional dual clutch transmission. In either case, the 1.4L turbo motor should make the 100 plenty of fun to drive.
As for the other two engines, the 2.0L Tigershark engine could provide a lower cost option but reports suggest that the Dart’s “entry” 2.0 will not be offered in the Chrysler 100. Finally, the Dart R/T packs a 2.4L engine that offers the most power in the lineup but is there really a need for the Chrysler 100 to feature the engine specific to the Dart R/T? Probably not but since there is so much attention to the power output of luxury models – Chrysler might offer some version of the 2.4L Tigershark engine.
Considering that the Chrysler Group national dealer convention this week offered a look at the Chrysler 100, perhaps it will arrive on the auto show circuit beginning later this year.