DETROIT AUTO SHOW: This Is The Small Car That Dodge Needs To Succeed

2013 Dodge Dart Detroit Auto Show

[credit provider=”Travis Okulski / Business Insider”]

The Fiat/Chrysler partnership is about to show more fruits in America.First, we got the Fiat 500 which is admittedly selling much worse than expected. Soon, an injection of adrenaline will come to that lineup with the sporty Abarth version.

And now we’ll be getting a bit more Italian flair with the Alfa Romeo based Dodge Dart.

Since this car is replacing the unloved calibre, it doesn’t really have big shoes to fill.

But the growing small car market means that Dodge does not have room to make another forgettable econobox. The Dart needs to be successful from day one if Chrysler wants to compete with Honda, Toyota, and all their domestic rivals in the market.

On paper and in person, it looks competitive.

2013 Dodge Dart Detroit Auto Show

[credit provider=”Travis Okulski / Business Insider”]

An aggressive front end recalls elements of the old Neon while the rear is a dead ringer for the current Dodge Charger. It strike a muscular profile for a small car and is definitely good looking.Power is coming from a range of Fiat sourced MultiAir four cylinder engines and there will be three six speed transmissions available at launch; a manual, an automatic, and a dual-clutch gearbox.

There’s also a nine speed automatic is in the works for 2013. That’s a lot of gears.

The Dart will have a base price of $15,995 when it goes on sale later this year. We’ll hold final judgment until we see if it drives as good as it looks.

Full disclosure: We would not be able to attend without Ford, who offered to fly us to Detroit and grant us access to the show as well as their design studios.

Check out Chevy’s small car concepts >