PARIS PREVIEW: Dodge rolling out new Avenger
Rather than simply rebadging models with minimal changes, DaimlerChrysler's Detroit-based Chrysler group has of late differentiated its Chrysler and Dodge sibling models much more.
Following the Chrysler 300C/Dodge Magnum twins - essentially sharing the same platform and mechanicals but with distinctively different exterior panels, dashboards and interiors - comes the smaller D-segment Dodge Avenger, making its world debut in thinly-disguised 'concept' form at Paris next week.
This is the Dodge version of the Chrysler Sebring that was launched in Europe at the London motor show in July and in the US this week.
Chrysler hasn't yet released many details of the Avenger (which revives an old model name that has previously been used on both UK- and US-designed Chrysler models), but it is expected to share the new Sebring's petrol-fuelled 2.4-litre 'World Engine', developed jointly with Mitsubishi and Hyundai, and 2.7- and 3.5-litre V6s as well as, for export only, the European Sebring's two-litre version of the world engine plus, mainly for Europe, a two-litre VW turbodiesel, as already used in the new C-segment Caliber hatchback.
Though essential for volume in Europe in the hard-fought D-segement, the diesel is not yet confirmed 100% for the Avenger with Chrysler mentioning only a coy "…two-litre turbo diesel engine, which could be sold in markets outside North America".
The Avenger is nonetheless likely to be the next major export push - after the upcoming Jeep-based Nitro - by the Dodge brand, which is being greatly expanded worldwide, especially in Europe, and it should follow the Caliber and Sebring across the Atlantic to both the Continent - and the UK (which means right-hand drive and suitability for other RHD markets such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, should Chrysler be really ambitious).
"This Avenger concept is another expression of where the Dodge brand is headed," said Trevor Creed, senior vice president - design, Chrysler Group. "Avenger brings Dodge brand American muscle car heritage into the global mid-size car segment. It does for the global D-segment what Caliber has done in the global C-segment — it offers a unique alternative to the competition."
The Paris display 'concept' car has 19-inch five-spoke painted satin silver wheels and all-season performance tyres plus deep red brake callipers, and body-coloured door handles. Fold-away mirrors useful in narrow European lanes (standard on European-spec versions of the Neon, the Caliber's predecessor) also get a mention in the press release.
Dodge sold more than 1.4m vehicles worldwide in 2005 and has a US market share of 7%.