Baby Viper mooted

TOBY HAGON
Last updated 09:30 19/12/2012
The 2013 SRT Viper GTS.
OH BABY: The 2013 SRT Viper GTS.

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Chrysler could produce a "baby Viper" using its alliance with parent company Fiat as a way to bring the muscle car look to a smaller, more affordable - and more fuel efficient - sports car.

Speaking at the international launch of the SRT Viper, the man who brought the V10-powered Viper back to life, SRT boss and Chrysler design chief Ralph Gilles, hinted a smaller Viper could be in the wings.

"Going forward, of course, my dream is to continue making unique SRT products, something like a baby Viper or something like that," said Gilles.

Most SRT models - the acronym stands for street and racing technology - are modified versions of existing Chrysler and Jeep models, bringing improved performance and better handling.

But the Viper - which runs only the SRT badging - is a standalone model.

Gilles said he would like to see more unique-to-SRT models as a way to build the brand and create more purpose-built sports cars.

"The enthusiast community is starting to recognise SRT as its own thing," he said.

The other advantage of producing a smaller, more fuel efficient Viper is it would still bring a high-performance model but help the company's fuel economy targets in the US; car makers in America must meet strict sales-weighted fuel economy targets or face financial penalties.

Gilles wouldn't be drawn on the chances of a baby Viper or how it would come to life.

One obvious choice would be to use the existing underpinnings of a Fiat or Alfa Romeo product, in much the same way as the Dodge Dart has given the US brand a smaller, more environmentally-friendly vehicle in a short  development timeframe; the Dart is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

The Alfa Romeo 4C is a lightweight sports car powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine making 170kW of power that could be one option.

Alfa Romeo is also working with Mazda to produce the latter's new MX-5 roadster, something that could also produce a viable baby sports car platform.

-Fairfax News Australia

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