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Dodge's Oz relaunch car debuts in Detroit

Low-cal: Dodge's Detroit fanfare was reserved for the Caliber small hatch.

The car with which Dodge will be relaunched in Oz appears in the metal at Detroit

16 Jan 2006

THE news is slowly spreading about Dodge’s return Down Under, particularly after the unveiling of the Caliber at the Detroit motor show last week.

The new hatch essentially replaces the lacklustre Neon sedan, which sold in very small numbers between 1996 and 2001.

Dodge claims the Caliber redefines the entry-level vehicle by combining high value with bold styling and a flexible interior.

Dodge describes the newcomer as a five-door hatch that "combines a sporty coupe-like profile with the strength, stance and functionality of an SUV" with a strong Dodge identity stamped into its DNA.

The signature crosshair grille gives it a distinct Dodge face and defines the strong, muscular front view.

A black graphic design accent running the length of the roof melds into an integrated rear-roof spoiler.

41 center imageIn the US the Caliber will be available with curtain airbags, MusicGate Power, a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system, dual purpose recharging removable flashlight, refrigerated storage bin between the front seats, sliding centre console, folding front passenger seat, 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seats and washable vinyl load floor.

Three variable valve timing engines will be available ranging from a 110kW 1.8-litre and 117kW 2.0-litre to a 128kW 2.4-litre. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is also available.

The engines are mated to either five-speed manual transmissions or CVT automatics with a pseudo-six-speed tiptronic mode.

In the US it is available with all-wheel-drive and electronic ESP with traction control but Australia is unlikely to offer AWD.

The Caliber sells in the US for $US13,985 ($A18,473) but don’t expect it to be bargain basement here.

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