SRT is Dead and Other News From Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
For enthusiasts, the biggest news was the demise of SRT as a standalone brand—though it will still exist as a performance division within the company. Ma Mopar’s trucks will remain badged as Rams, but the Viper will shed the SRT badge and revert to being a Dodge. Given the sexy snake has been struck with slow sales, and the honchos decided to forgo campaigning it at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the good news is that management didn’t decide to bust out the shovel and put the Viper away for good. Instead, we’ll see a refresh in 2015—most likely with production numbers and sales projections informed by its performance so far.
We already knew—because there were splashy debuts at NYIAS—that the Charger and the Challenger were getting some new sheet metal. In a better-late-than-never move, Ma Mopar killed the Avenger, along with the storied Grand Caravan—which will see its place on the roster filled by Chrysler’s new Town & Country in 2016.
The 2016 model year will also see the arrival of a new Dart and Dart SRT models. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that a new AWD compact SRT will be a beast prepped to battle Subaru’s WRX Sti in the daily driver rally car segment. Given that there’s a way to go between the Subie’s 35k MSRP and that of the current Dart lineup, there’s probably plenty of room to undercut the Seven Sisters in the showroom.
On the truck front, aside from the ProMaster diesel and ProMaster City launches this year, the big news was that we’ll see a refreshed Ram 1500 in 2015 and a refreshed HD version the following year, building up to all-new models in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Of the announcements regarding Jeep—the biggest reason Fiat bought the America side—we’ll see some exciting developments regarding a new Grand Cherokee and a possibly aluminum Wrangler. Our friends over at JK-Forum are all over that news, so head over there for all the details.
Obviously there was some news regarding the Italian cousins. Maybe because arch-rival McLaren said it would release a new model every year, Ferrari will do the same between 2014-18. There was no indication of whether any of Maranello’s new vehicles will have a name as cringe-worthy as “LaFerrari.”
Maserati will continue on the aggressive plan—begun with great fanfare with the Ghibli Super Bowl commercial—to broaden its market share, and launch the Levante SUV, coupe and convertible versions of the sporty Alfieri concept, and debut an all-new GranTurismo in 2018.
Unconfirmed is whether the former Miata-based Alfa roadster will be badged a Fiat and sport the 1.4l MultiAir turbo from the Abarth. Keep your fingers crossed.
In other news, long-suffering Alfa Romeo’s product line is getting a major revamp, and the brand will operate semi-autonomously, à la Ferrari.
Most importantly? FWD is out. AWD/RWD are in, and every vehicle will focus on having a high power-to-weight ratio along with 50/50 balance. Sergio Marchionne’s aggressive plan calls for eight new offerings, spanning the range from compact cars to utility vehicles—a Porsche Cayenne or Macan fighter?—to specialty sports machines by 2018.
The limited-production 4C and 4C Spider are confirmed as coming to the States, but whether the rest of the product line will make it to our shores is still a mystery. But given all the promises we’ve heard over the years about Alfa’s return, it’s probably best to not count on it.