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Dodge Dart debuts in Beijing as the Fiat Viaggio

The new Dodge Dart made its global debut today at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show but unlike those sporty c-segment sedans sold in the US – the car that debuted in China today sports a unique design and the name of the Fiat Viaggio.

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The new Fiat Viaggio will arrive in the Chinese market riding on the same Compact US Wide (CUSW) platform as the 2013 Dodge Dart but unlike the Dart which will be built at Chrysler’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, the Fiat Viaggio will be built at the new GAC/Fiat joint production plant in Changsha of the Hunan province in China. This marks the first application of a Fiat (technically, Alfa Romeo) model has been designed for the US market and then applied to another market – showing the cooperation between Fiat and the Chrysler Group under the merger.

While from the side, the Fiat Viaggio looks very similar to the 2013 Dodge Dart, the front and rear ends of the Chinese market Fiat sedan have received their own unique look. Up front, the Viaggio features a large grille opening that is clad heavily in chrome with more bright polished silver in the headlight bezels and around the low-mounted fog lights. Where the headlights of the Dodge Dart flow into the massive grille which pours down into the lower fascia opening, the Viaggio headlights are split away from the upper grille and the lower fascia opening is separated from the chromed out main grille opening. Out back, the Fiat Viaggio receives a great deal of aesthetic change compared to the Dart, especially with regard to the taillights. The 2013 Dodge Dart wears a massive LED-laden wraparound taillight that is one of the key design features of the sporty new Dodge sedan so it wouldn’t be right for Fiat Viaggio to wear the same tails. Instead, the Fiat version wears unique dual taillights with a high mounted license plate area breaking up the shape of the rear decklid. A large chrome appliqué sporting the Fiat badge separates the two taillights while the lower fascia is less aggressive than the one found on the new Dart.

Inside, the Fiat Viaggio will offer “more of your money” much like the Dodge Dart but with more of a luxury feel where the Dart focuses more on being sporty. This includes leather finishes accented by chrome trim around the cabin while the Viaggio avoids any faux finishes; such as fake wood, carbon fiber etc. Like the Dart, the Viaggio will include the customizable “floating island” gauge cluster while the 8.4” infotainment control system from the Dart is also available.

The other key area where the Fiat Viaggio differs from the Dodge Dart is under the hood; where Fiat does away with the 1.4, 2.0 and 2.4L 4-cylinder engines from the American-built CUSW sedans in favor of a smaller Fiat engine currently hard at work around the European market. There are actually two engines offered for the Fiat Viaggio – both of which measure 1.4L using Fiat’s T-Jet turbocharger technology to make either 120 or 150 horsepower. Each of these small, efficient engines are available with the buyers choice of a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission or a traditional 5-speed manual transmission.

The Fiat Viaggio will enter production at the end of June with the first deliveries in China set to occur before the end of 2012.

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