As predicted by Autocar last month, the Chrysler Group will use the Geneva motor show to test industry and public reaction to the idea of a small, two-seater Dodge roadster. It will be called the Dodge Demon and driven via its rear wheels, and you can get your first look at it in our gallery.
US motor industry sources revealed that Dodge would show a small rear-driven roadster at Geneva at the Detroit show in January. They suggested it would be pitched as a very close match for the Mazda MX-5, and also be a clear relation of the Dodge Razor coupe, which was shown at Detroit in 2002. They've turned out to be absolutely right on both counts.
The Demon concept is 3974mm long, 1736mm wide, and rides on a 2429mm wheelbase – all measurements close enough to those of the Mazda MX-5 for the Japanese roadster to be considered a blueprint. However, there will be no confusing the brand that fathered this little open-top when the covers come off it next month; it wears Dodge's unmistakable crosshair grille, and elsewhere has many unique design features intended to carve out a distinctive overall impression. Among them are a plunging beltline, muscular-looking rear haunches, polished 19in alloy wheels nestling in eye-catching asymmetrical wheel arches, and recessed LED tail lamps.
Lift the Demon's bonnet, which hinges at the front, and you'll find DCX's 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which provides a healthy 172bhp to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. It must also contribute significantly to the car's 1179kg kerbweight though; that's 100kg heavier than a 2.0-litre MX-5. Performance is therefore likely to be lively rather than life-threatening; think 60mph in 7.5sec and 135mph flat out.
Although no public commitment has been made by DaimlerChrysler to building the Demon, Autocar has learned that Dodge insiders view the project as a perfect fit for the brand, and are already putting together a business case.
One question mark looms for European fans of the car; Chrysler CEO Tom La Sorda thinks that volumes of the new car should be 'set low,' which brings into question whether it will make sense to build the car in right-hand-drive, at least at first, for the UK.