What It Is: Fiat’s inadequate quid to Chrysler’s pro quo. In exchange for building the Jeep Grand Cherokee–based Maserati Kubang crossover—as well as the 200 and 300 sold as Lancias in Europe—Chrysler got Italian help with the styling, as well as the fluffing and tufting of this compact folding-hardtop convertible.
Why It Matters: Chrysler refuses to let go of its pseudo-luxury delusions, and this is proof that Fiat is nurturing them. This car is only worth waiting for to see how many people storm Chrysler headquarters bearing torches.
Platform: The Dodge Dart’s, which is adapted from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s.
Powertrain: A 160-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged four shared with the Fiat 500 Abarth will be the base engine, but the TD will be the first vehicle available in the U.S. with Fiat’s turbocharged TwinAir 0.9-liter two-cylinder. The engine makes 85 horsepower in its current European applications, but something closer to 87 is likely for the TD.
Competition: Ostensibly the Volkswagen Eos and the Mini Cooper convertible, but the TD will mostly do battle with the reputation of its predecessor, the TC.
What Might Go Wrong: People might remember the last Chrysler by Maserati. People should remember the TC, especially people who work for Chrysler. The TD needs to be more reasonably priced than its predecessor and look dramatically different from the Dart, but nobody is addressing either topic.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Early 2014. The TC cost roughly three times what a contemporary LeBaron sedan did; figure on the blow being softened this time but only slightly. We expect a starting price of about $35,000.