Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, left without a compact car in North America after the cancellation of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart, will revive the “Plymouth Sundance” nameplate for 2021, FCA North American Communications Manager May Dupnaime told us on the sidelines of the 2018 New York International Auto Show. She further revealed that the folks at SRT are working on a business case for an SRT4 model, capable of putting the Ford Focus RS in its place.
“When we discontinued the [Chrysler] 200 and the [Dodge] Dart, it was absolutely the right move for the time, because neither was really competitive in the segment,” May Dupnaime said. “The downside is, it’s left us with a hole in our North American lineup. Now, we’re going to fix that by reintroducing our beloved, respected ‘Plymouth Sundance’ nameplate.”
The goal in introducing the new compact car under the Plymouth brand appears to be creating some separation between it and the bigger, more upscale cars currently sold by Dodge and Chrysler: Challenger, Charger, and 300. The new Plymouth Sundance, like its forebear, will be decidedly more economical than those large, rear-wheel-drive cars, using a transverse front-engine/front-wheel-drive layout, and an evolution of the Fiat Compact platform premiered by the Alfa Romeo Giulietta in 2010.
To cut down on costs, the 2021 Plymouth Sundance will use a new, steel-reinforced composite material on suspension components like the front A-arms and rear links, as well as the front subframe. That means, of course, it’d be ill-advised to take the new Sundance off-road, but happily, the new material should bring with it the side-effect of lower mass – an attribute that’s especially beneficial on unsprung components like the suspension bits. The body of the car will be made from fiberglass, further reducing costs (and weight), while the interior will be trimmed primarily using parts and materials harvested from Dodge’s gargantuan stockpile of unsold Darts.
Power will come from Fiat’s 1.4-liter Multi-Air Turbo engine, capable of 135 horsepower and 150 lb-ft – quite a bit more than the 90 horsepower/120 lb-ft available from the original Plymouth Sundance’s 2.2L K engine. Sadly, no manual transmission will be available – just a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. That will be true even of the Plymouth Sundance SRT4, assuming FCA decides to build it.
“Buyers are ditching cars in favor of big crossovers and SUVs in increasing numbers, but the small car segment is far from dead in the US,” May Dupnaime told us. “By reintroducing our iconic Plymouth Sundance to a North American audience, we’re confident we can take our fair share of the market.”
Expect the 2021 Plymouth Sundance to bow sometime early in 2020, likely at the Boston-South Auto Show (B.S. Auto Show) starting February 30th. There, FCA is also expected to debut a new convertible crossover concept, which we hear could be named “LeBaron”.