2009 Detroit Show: Dodge Circuit Concept

January 10, 2009

Of the new electric cars on the Chrysler stand, we're willing to bet that the Dodge Circuit is the one that most set enthusiasts hearts aflutter—and plenty of wonks atwitter. Thanks to a number of styling tweaks, especially at the back, the Lotus-bodied Circuit impresses as considerably more sexy and exotic-looking than last year's Dodge EV sports-car concept—and even the evolved model that Chrysler provided glimpses of back in September.

The Circuit from some angles looks like a scaled-down Viper—not at all a bad thing—and the thick crosshair grille clearly establishes it under the Dodge brand. But flamboyant Tangoreen paint job aside, there's a lot to talk about in the Circuit's design. The Viper-like front end pairs with the side design and huge, recessed cooling intakes and scalloped flanks of a mid-engine sports car. The hood has two tiers, with a vent area that arcs around the cowl, and the windshield frame is blacked out—perhaps also hinting at the chance of a removable or retractable hardtop. The matte-aluminum fuel filler looks straight out of racing. And with a smoother rear fascia that looks more production-ready than last year's haphazard tail, the back now carries through with a nice sense of proportion. This reporter also sees some influence from the almost-forgotten Dodge Stealth toward the rear.

But at only 153.5 inches long, with a wheelbase of just 91.7 inches and a neck-bowing height of just 45.3 inches, the Circuit is very small in comparison.

The interior looks tight—both tight in a good way, but also in that it's strictly a two-passenger vehicle. The design inside is simple but attractive design, with satin silver accents and black leather upholstery, and a leather-trimmed dash. Chrysler also promises, for the geeks, a digital display regarding the drive system.

There's a 200-kW (268-horsepower) electric motor on board the Circuit, powering the back wheels, with a lithium-ion battery pack enabling an all-electric range of 150 to 200 miles. As such, the Circuit can race up to 60 mph in less than five seconds and do the standing quarter mile in the low-13-second range, with a top speed of more than 120 mph. It will be possible to recharge the Circuit, albeit slowly, with a standard 110-volt household AC outlet.

We don't know much else about the platform of the Circuit, other than it will have a four-wheel independent suspension, with staggered-size tires—17-inch ones in front and wider 18-inchers in back.

Finally, kudos to Chrysler for finding a good sports car name that hasn't already been taken. With allusions to electric vehicles and race tracks, TheCarConnection.com doesn't think the automaker can go wrong with this one.

2009 Detroit auto show

2009 Detroit auto show

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2009 Detroit auto show

2009 Detroit auto show

Enlarge Photo
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