2013 Dodge Small Car (Hornet) spy shots

2013 Dodge Small Car (Hornet) spy shots

Dodge’s long overdue small car designed to replace the aging Caliber and ride on a fuel efficient platform sourced from Fiat is almost here.

This latest spy shot shows a nearly complete prototype wearing Dodge’s trademark crosshair grille and sitting at one of the automaker’s test facilities in the U.S.

Additionally, it confirms that Dodge’s new small car will feature a sedan bodystyle, although a five-door hatchback is also expected.

Dodge has been teasing us with plans for a fun-to-drive small car since the reveal of the original Hornet Concept back in 2006 but the financial crisis and Chrysler’s own bankruptcy proceedings put all those plans on the shelf.

Then in stepped Fiat, which as part of its alliance dealings with Chrysler and the U.S. government promised to share its vehicle platform and engine technology.

This new model will ride on an updated version of Fiat’s C-Evo platform, which currently underpins cars like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Fiat Bravo. C-Evo, or Compact-Wide as it's known in updated form, is designed for front mounted engines and front-wheel drive, though can also accommodate an all-wheel drive configuration.

2006 Dodge Hornet concept. Geneva Motor Show

2006 Dodge Hornet concept. Geneva Motor Show

When it finally goes on sale early next year, Dodge’s new small car will compete directly with the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.

Power will almost certainly come from Fiat Group’s highly praised 1.4-liter MultiAir engine, which in the 2012 Fiat 500 is rated at 101 horsepower. Expect a more powerful turbocharged version in the Dodge.

A six-speed manual should be standard, with a six-speed auto remaining as an option. One version, similar to Chevy’s Cruze Eco model, is believed to deliver gas mileage of 40 mpg on the highway or better.

As for its new name, everything from “Hornet” to “Caliber” to even “Neon” has been thrown about, though we’ll have to wait until closer to the car’s launch, either at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show next month or at January’s 2012 Detroit Auto Show, to finally find out.