If you can remember a time when the word “charger” had nothing to do with phones or laptops, the latest Dodge will be a feast for your eyes. It might also be the type of image builder to spearhead the brand’s return to SA.

If you can remember a time when the word “charger” had nothing to do with phones and laptops, the latest Dodge will be a feast for your eyes. It might also be the type of image builder that to spearhead the brand’s return to South Africa.

CARtoday.com recently learnt that DaimlerChrysler SA was gearing-up for the local re-introduction of the Dodge brand. The first product, which will probably be a pick-up or SUV, should reach us in late-2006, but it is possible that the new Charger could join the line-up later on.

Based on its cousin, the SA-bound Chrysler 300C, the four-door Charger has a chromed egg-crate front grille, muscular rear wheelarches, coupe-like styling, and will be offered with a 186 kW 3,5-litre V6 or 254 kW 5,7-litre Hemi V8 engine, a five-speed automatic transmission (with electronically-modulated torque converter), and a high-performance suspension option.

When the iconic Charger first appeared in 1966 it was an enthusiasts' dream, offering raw ‘cubic-inch power’, performance and slick style. It was a hit on oval tracks as well as drag strips.

However, in the early-1970s, thanks to US government-mandated emissions constraints and rising petrol prices, the Charger began a long and steady fall from grace. According to American motor scribes, it reached its low point in 1981 when Chrysler turned the Charger into a tepid front-wheel drive coupé.

At the current Detroit Show, Chrysler has brought back the Charger for the 2006 model year, but deliberately opted not to turn the new model into a retro version of the fabled muscle car.

Trevor Creed, Chrysler vice president of design, said the new Charger was not a retro vehicle in any sense, even though it carries a famous name from Chrysler's past.

"We elected deliberately not to do a reproduction of the '69 Charger," he said. "We think this is a worthy vehicle on which to hang the name."

For starters, the new Charger is bound to corner and brake far better than its brash predecessors. All models in the line-up come equipped with electronic stability program (ESP), all-speed traction control, anti-lock brake system (ABS), and a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick, which accommodates fully automatic or manually selected gearchanges.

The suspension comprises short and long locating arms at the front, and a five-link independent configuration at the rear. All rear suspension components, except the coil springs and dampers, are mounted on a steel cradle that attaches to the body structure through four large rubber mounts that effectively isolate the passenger compartment from road and axle noise, Chrysler says.

The optional Performance Handling Group suspension package will include wider 18-inch performance tyres, a nine-land steering gear, and Nivomat(TM) self-levelling shock absorbers.

Under the bonnet, the flagship 5,7-litre Hemi engine features hi-tech hydraulic valve lifters and a multi-displacement system, which shuts off the valve systems on four of the eight cylinders, effectively converting the V8 to a more frugal V4 at cruising speeds. Maximum power is produced at 5 000 r/min, with 525 N.m of torque peaking at 4 000 r/min. The powerplant is said to be capable of propelling the Charger from zero to 100 km/h in about six seconds.

In terms of safety, the rear structure of the Charger, including the sill reinforcement, was designed so that the spare tyre rotates out of the way during a rear impact. The car's steering column has two hydroformed coaxial tubes that move relative to each other, allowing the column to move forward for enhanced energy absorption during an impact.

Furthermore, multi-stage driver and front passenger airbags, a front passenger occupant classification system for controlled airbag deployment, constant force seatbelt retractors, pretensioners, and a child seat anchor system complete the standard safety specification. Also available on the Charger are side curtain airbags, and an optional tyre pressure monitoring system.

Original article from Car