2006-Dodge-Hornet.jpgby Patrick Rall

    We have known for weeks now that the Dodge Caliber hatchback will be replaced with a new vehicle to make its grand debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit’s Cobo Hall. Now the first spy shots have leaked, as well as the rumored name of the model. Here’s a hint, it’s taken from the concept above. 

    Previously, we had only known that there was a replacement for the
    Caliber coming that had heavy influence from Fiat and Alfa Romeo, but
    now we have a better look at what to expect when the sheets are pulled
    away from the new Dodge C segment vehicle next January.

    replacement to the Dodge Caliber will be based on a current Fiat
    platform that has been stretched and widened for American tastes –
    similar to the alterations made to the current US-spec Fiat 500.  This
    platform, which is loosely based on the C-Evo platform that is home to
    the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, has been named the Compact U.S. Wide or CUSW
    for short.  The new C segment vehicle, which in the spy shots looks a lot like the Giulietta,
    will be a sedan and hatchback designed to compete with the likes of the
    Ford Focus, the Chevy Cruze, the Honda Civic, the VW Golf and the
    Subaru Impreza.


    do not have any indication as to what to expect under the hood of the
    Dodge Caliber replacement that hits the Motor City in Detroit next
    January, but we can be assured that there will be a heavy dose of fuel
    friendly Fiat technology.  Automotive News
    reports that Fiat is preparing two new 4-cylinder engine families that
    will use turbocharging and direct injection to offer comparable fuel
    economy and performance to the other vehicles in the class.  Helping
    those engines yield even better fuel economy will be the upcoming 8
    speed and 9 speed automatic transmissions along with the new 6-speed
    dual clutch automatic transmission.

    The new Dodge C segment sedan
    will be a huge test for Fiat and the Chrysler Group as this will be the
    first vehicle heavily based on a current Fiat European vehicle with
    US-friendly drivetrain alterations made to allow the new Dodge to
    compete in one of the most competitive segments in the US auto
    industry.  Fiat is betting good money on the success of this new CUSW
    platform, with a full range of vehicles expected, including new models
    for the Jeep and Chrysler brands in the near future.

    The big
    winner in the American C segment right now is the Chevrolet Cruze which
    has even claimed the title of the bestselling car in American in recent
    months.  Fiat and Dodge will certainly have their work cut out for them
    in improving the popularity of their C segment offering against vehicles
    like the Cruze and the aforementioned Focus and Civic, as well as the
    Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra.  These are among the bestselling
    models in the US for a variety of reasons but the biggest is their
    superior fuel economy.  With the Dodge Caliber offering much worse fuel
    economy than the current competitors, mpg and performance could prove to
    be as important as price and styling.

    Oh, and lest we forget,
    the new model is likely to be called the Hornet, which is the name of a
    hatchback concept from 2006. It’s unconfirmed, but apparently the Hornet was also the
    inspiration for the Nissan Cube.

    Is Dodge on the right track here? What else do they need to do to make the 2013 Dodge Hornet competitive? Sound off in the forums!