The Fiat 124 Could Make an Incredible Dodge Demon
Back in 2007, the Chrysler Group showed off the Dodge Demon Concept – a sporty, 2-seat roadster that would compete with the likes of the Mazda Miata. The Demon never made it to production, but after spending a day driving the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider around Southern California, I believe that the company now has the perfect car on which to base the production version of the gorgeous golden concept from 2007.
The 2007 Dodge Demon Concept (shown above in gold) was a small 2-seat roadster that weighed 2,600lbs and offered a mix of 172hp and 165lb-ft of torque from a naturally aspirated 2.4L 4-cylinder engine. That car would have been the perfect competitor for the Mazda Miata – the most popular small sports car in America – and it would have been the first small, affordable roadster from the Chrysler Group. Unfortunately, that never came to volition, but the new Fiat 124 Spider is so much like the 2007 Demon Concept that is screams for the company to offer a Dodge derivative of the fun new Fiat 124.
First off, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider weighs 2,436lbs and is powered by a turbocharged 1.4L engine that delivers 164 horsepower and 184lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a standard 6-speed manual transmission. It is a 2-seat roadster based on the same underpinnings as the new Mazda Miata, so in creating the new Fiat 124 Spider, Chrysler turned to the automaker which has built the best car in the segment for years. The 2007 Demon was designed to compete with the Mazda Miata and the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is literally a roomier, lighter and more powerful version of the Miata.
So, the specs seem to give the new Fiat 124 Spider an advantage over the Miata, but how does that translate into real world performance? Well, based on my day driving the new 124 around SoCal – it translates into a pretty fantastic little roadster.
The Fiat 124 Spider in every trim (not just the Abarth models) offer great low end power and impressive handling. I found this by conquering some of SoCal’s twisty roads and by blasting around a fairly large autocross course. The 124 handles remarkably well and while the power levels aren’t going to set the world on fire, this little roadster has plenty of power to make it one hell of a lot of fun to drive in any situation. Best of all, when you aren’t carving through the canyons, the new Fiat offers a surprisingly smooth ride.
Essentially, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is everything that we had hoped to see from the 2007 Dodge Demon Concept, except rather than being a new Dodge – it is a Fiat. But what if Chrysler took the 124 a step further, removing some of the comforts inside, adding a more aggressive face and adding some Dodge logos? Maybe Dodge could use this rumored Hurricane 4-cylinder engine that will have forced induction and a power output in excess of 300 horsepower?
A 300hp version of the Fiat 124 Spider with less amenities could cut weight down enough to get under 2,400lbs, resulting in a car with a power to weight ratio of roughly 8 pounds per horsepower. For comparison, the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack has 485hp and weighs around 4,100lbs, resulting in a power to weight ratio of about 8.4lbs/hp and the newest Porsche Boxster has 300hp and weighs 2,944lbs, resulting in a power to weight ratio of 9.81lbs/hp.
In other words, a 300hp Dodge Demon based on the new Fiat 124 Spider could offer significantly better performance levels than the Porsche Boxster and based on the Fiat’s starting price of $25k – the Dodge would almost certainly 40% less than the slower Porsche. Best of all, with the Dodge brand being positioned as a performance lineup featuring vehicles that will crush far more expensive competitors, a $30k Dodge roadster that would beat the Porsche Boxster makes perfect sense.
Of course, this is all just speculation and dreaming on my part, but the good news – the most important part of this speculation – is that with the Fiat 124 Spider, Chrysler finally has a great, affordable compact sports car.