While GM and Ford dither over performance vehicles, DaimlerChrysler is pushing to ensure its SRT franchise keeps getting bigger and better. SRT versions of two of DCX's big launches for 2006, the Dodge Caliber and Nitro, are already under development.
The Caliber SRT4 is tipped to make its world debut at next year's Chicago show. The scoops and vents on the hood of this mule confirm rumors the Caliber SRT4 will be powered by a turbocharged version of DCX's new 2.4-liter inline-four. Whispers out of Auburn Hills suggest the Caliber SRT4 will pack close to 300 horses.
We also hear there's been fierce debate over whether the car should be all-wheel or front drive. The front-drive faction wants to keep the car's sticker low, but taming all that power will require careful chassis engineering and clever electronics. Expect a lower ride height, stiffer suspension, and larger-diameter wheels with low-profile tires to help keep the Caliber SRT4 glued to the tarmac.
The regular Dodge Nitro will also make its debut at Chicago. This medium-size SUV is based on an extended Jeep Liberty frame and will be built in DCX's Toledo, Ohio plant alongside the Liberty.
The Nitro SRT6 version isn't expected to appear until 2006. As this scoop picture shows, it'll feature lower ride height and wearing larger-diameter wheels, just like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Under the hood will be a tuned version of the upgraded V-6 that'll power the regular Nitro, probably with about 300 horses.