A roadster with all the venom of the legendary Dodge
Viper supercar, but in a smaller, more affordable package, would be a surefire hit. And now, the dream is about to become a reality, as the aptly named Demon is ready to hit the road.
The idea of such a car has been around for nearly 10 years. Back in 1997, Dodge pulled the covers off its
perhead concept. Despite its thrilling promise, parent firm DaimlerChrysler canned the project, fearing it wouldn't be profitable.
But a decade on, the transfer of second-hand technology from Mercedes
cars to low-cost Dodge and Chrysler
models has finally made the drop-top feasible for production. And Auto Express got an exclusive chance to experience the newcomer first hand.
Set to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next month, the Dodge Demon is a striking two-seater. While bosses are still calling it a concept, it's closer to the showroom than you might think. Officials are remaining tight-lipped, but the cabrio is tipped to go into production next year.
As with the Chrysler Crossfire, the Demon uses underpinnings from the previous-generation Mercedes SLK - this is the key to the car's affordable development costs, and should help to keep prices competitive. Featuring the latest Dodge face, the newcomer fits perfectly into the current line-up. At the front, its huge grille is flanked by headlamps inspired by those on the Viper, plus a low airdam.
The muscular look is continued in profile, with sharp lines and distinctive asymmetric wheelarches wrapped around 19-inch alloys. Meanwhile, the rear has a blunt appearance similar to Nissan
's 350Z Roadster.
Inside, occupants sit snugly behind the low windscreen, which gives the interior a sporty feel. There's no room for back seats, although the boot is deep and offers decent practicality.
The dashboard boasts plenty of switchgear which will be familiar to Chrysler owners, and has a retro feel thanks to the aluminium-effect finish. However, the production version of the Demon is likely to have one feature that will trump its rivals.
While the show car doesn't offer a roof at all, there is space set aside behind the cockpit to stow the top. But where the Crossfire Roadster has a fabric hood, the Demon will steal the limelight with a full folding metal roof. This will give the Dodge a key advantage over many rivals, too.
Where the Demon falls short of the competition is when you lift the bonnet. Although the Viper is equipped with a mighty V10 with a mighty V10 powerplant, its little brother has to make do with a four-cylinder unit sourced from the firm's Ford
Focus-rivalling Caliber. In standard tune, it delivers only 170bhp to the rear wheels. However, it's also likely that the Demon will be available with a turbocharged engine offering a choice of 233bhp and 270bhp. The show car is fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox which has a similar snappy, short-throw feel to the Mazda
MX-5's set-up. This allows the 1,200kg roadster to cover 0-62mph with impressive speed. Only when the model is ready for the showroom will the exact acceleration figures be recorded, but the Dodge
is expected to bridge the performance gap between the MX-5 and 350Z. Prices have yet to be decided, too, although the Demon is likely to weigh in at around £20,000. Plenty of engineering work needs to be done to bring the SLK's ageing underpinnings up to the standard of cutting-edge rivals. But be in no doubt - this is one Dodge that would strike at the heart of the drop-top market.
(Article Couresty of Yahoo Cars)