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Old 30th April 2013, 15:08   #1
Black 6050
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Default Chrysler Readying SRT Barracuda to Succeed Challenger

Details Surface: Chrysler Readying SRT Barracuda to Succeed Challenger
BY DAVE MABLE
ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN SIBAL

Not much about the 2013 Viper deviates from the formula that made the car famous—it has a monstrous V-10, rear-wheel drive, and a manual transmission, and it still looks ready for a 10-on-1 bar fight. Branding it not a Dodge but an SRT, however, has raised eyebrows. Giving that new brand heft is a second model: the 2015 SRT Barracuda, the Dodge Challenger’s replacement.

Unlike the Viper, it will be a dramatic departure. Chrysler’s LX platform (Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum and Charger) benefited from front and rear ¬suspension setups derived from the Mercedes-Benz S- and E-class, respectively, but it’s huge for a pony car. Since the Challenger’s inception, the LX has evolved into the LY and gained weight in the process. Now that it’s part of Fiat, Dodge would like to export Challengers, but their mass and zaftig proportions limit overseas sales potential. With fuel economy a growing priority not to mention four-cylinder versions of both the Mustang and Camaro on the horizon—Chrysler needed to slim down its offering.

Fortunately, Fiat has been on the prowl for a rear-drive platform for use by Lancia, Alfa Romeo, and possibly Maserati. These factors motivated Chrysler to develop a new platform, and the Barracuda will be its first fruit.

Similar in size to the current Mustang, the Barracuda is expected to lose more than six inches from the Challenger’s wheelbase and close to eight in overall length. Rear track and overall width are forecast to shrink by a bit more than two inches. Weight will drop by between 250 and 300 pounds. The front suspension may move from control arms to a strut setup; the rear suspension will remain multilink, with new geometry.

Mindful of tightening CAFE requirements, power¬train offerings will expand to include at least one ¬variant of the new 2.4-liter Tigershark inline-four, possibly force-fed. While the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is expected to get direct injection at about the time the ’Cuda arrives, CAFE more than market demand will determine whether a V-6 is offered. Expect the Hemi V-8 to carry on, with direct injection increasing power and efficiency. We hear it’s unlikely that both the 5.7- and 6.4-liter versions will be offered but hope Chrysler reverses its thinking there. Two HEMIs would go a long way toward cementing the SRT brand’s authenticity.
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