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by Tim Beissmann

The Dodge Charger could be introduced to Australia from the beginning of 2014 if the business case that is currently under assessment stacks up.

Chrysler Group senior vice president of design Ralph Gilles told CarAdvice at the New York auto show his team is investigating shipping a converted right-hand-drive version of the large rear-wheel-drive sedan to Australia to sell alongside the Chrysler 300, with which it shares its platform.

“Apparently the Australians favour the Charger more than the 300, so we’re looking at a conversion package where we could do something,” Gilles said.

“The market wants it, so that’s something I’m very interested in.”

He said a Dodge Charger built specially for Australia could take “less than a year” to materialise if the business case comes back positive – the magic number being 1000 sales per year.

Gilles said rather than create a complete right-hand-drive Charger just for our market, the American brand was looking at melding the instrument panel from the 300 into the Dodge for Australia.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to reinvest in a custom one, so I think if we kind of mix the DNA a little bit we could come up with something very cool.”

If it eventuates, the right-hand-drive Dodge Charger will cost more than the entry-level 300, which is priced from $43,000 in Australia.

Dodge offers the Charger with three unique powertrains in the US: a 218kW/353Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, a 276kW/536Nm 5.7-litre Hemi V8 and a high-performance 351kW/637Nm 6.4-litre Hemi V8 in the flagship SRT variant, which sprints from 0-60mph (0-96.6km/h) in under five seconds.

At 5077mm long, 1905mm wide, 1482mm tall and riding on a 3052mm wheelbase, the Dodge Charger is just 11mm longer and 6mm lower to the ground than the Chrysler 300.

While Australia’s large-car market is in decline, 1000 sales is far from unreachable. The locally made Holden Commodore (30,532), Ford Falcon (14,036) and Toyota Aurion (9074) easily eclipsed that number in 2012, while seven other similar-sized models – Honda Accord (1565), Holden Caprice (1460), Nissan Maxima (1454), Chrysler 300 (1206), BMW 5 Series (1087), Peugeot 508 (1085) and Mercedes-Benz E-Class (1036) – also reached four figures.

A 2014 launch would see the iconic Charger nameplate return to Australia 36 years after the locally manufactured two-door Chrysler Valiant Charger was discontinued in 1978. The original VH Charger was tremendously popular and highly acclaimed in Australia, though the car’s gradual shift away from its performance origins saw production cease after just seven years.

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