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What's The Best Sporty Luxury Sedan You Can Get For Less Than $50K?

What’s The Best Sporty Luxury Sedan You Can Get For Less Than $50K?

Four doors for fun

At its most basic, a sport sedan should be a happy balance between two competing philosophies. The “sport” half of the equation should make it engaging, both in the way it drives, and the way it looks. A sport sedan should issue a dose of adrenaline when the hammer is down, and be a willing dance partner in the corners. It’s also gotta draw attention, turning heads as it goes, making its owner pause momentarily after exiting and locking the doors. Then there’s the “sedan” bit. A sport sedan isn’t supposed to be stripped down and basic – practicality and comfort are paramount. Often used as a daily driver, backside coddling should be there in abundance, complementing the car’s speed potential, rather than taking away from it. All told, it’s a big ask, but this segment has plenty of contenders vying for the title of best. In this comparison, we look at six of the top entries and sort them out, from first to last.

Listed in alphabetical order, this comparison will take a look at the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Chrysler 300, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XE, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. We’ve evaluated each in terms of exterior aesthetics, interior comfort and technology, powertrain and drivetrain specs, and chassis and handling. We’ve also included a glut of info in chart and graph form to help you make a quick comparison. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best sporty luxury sedan you can get for less than $50,000.

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FCA Looking For Partner To Build Dart And 200 Sedan

FCA Looking For Partner To Build Dart And 200 Sedan

Fresh hope for FCA’s sedans

In January 2016, FCA’s Sergio Marchionne announced that both the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 will be axed, as the company is looking to focus its resources to building more trucks and SUVs. You know, the kind of vehicles that bring bigger profits. The decision was far from surprising in the case of the Dart, a slow-selling car that has lost its appeal years ago, but unexpected for the 200. Sure, sales have declined shortly after the sedan went into production, but unlike the Dart, the 200 has received an extensive makeover for the 2015 model year. One that Chrysler was very proud of, being described as the car that "lays the groundwork for the future of the brand" and a model to become the "new benchmark for midsize sedans."

Two months have passed and it appears that Marchionne changed his mind about both vehicles and the brand is looking for a partner "who is better at it than we are and who has got capacity available" to continue building the Dart and 200. In other words, FCA wants to have the sedans built in another company’s facility, just like Mercedes-Benz has the G-Class manufactured by Magna Steyr in Austria and Toyota has the Scion iA made by Mazda in Mexico.

"There are discussions going on now," Marchionne said at the Geneva Motor Show. "I think we will find a solution. We continue to talk. It’s both a technical solution and an economic one. We need to find a solution that works economically."

If this happens, the Dart and 200 won’t be the first FCA vehicles to be built by partners. The Miata-based Fiat 124 Spider is assembled by Mazda, while the ProMaster City van is manufactured in a join-venture plant in Turkey shared with its Fiat-badged Doblo twin.

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Ralph Gilles Sketches A Possible Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat

Ralph Gilles Sketches A Possible Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat

Gilles shows his skills with crayon and paper

Let’s be honest, the minivan segment has pretty much fizzled away, much like the station wagon did a while back. With the invention of the crossover and the drop in the price of gasoline in recent years, the desire for larger, gas-sucking family haulers is going stronger than ever. The minivan segment refuses to die, however, as a few manufacturers are still pushing the hope that soccer moms everywhere will continue to persuade their husbands into keeping a minivan in the driveway. That was made pretty clear earlier this month when FCA pulled to covers off of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.

What if the minivan became more of a “guy’s ride,” though? Would it revive the minivan segment and drive up sales in an otherwise struggling segment? Well, FCA’s Head of Design, Ralph Gilles, has apparently been wondering that himself. Just a couple days ago, the man behind FCA’s design team sat down for dinner and ended up sketching his vision of what a Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat would look like with nothing more than a crayon and some brown paper.

Looking at his Instagram post, where the sketch went public two days ago, the idea has been pretty well accepted by a lot of his followers. Comments like “This needs to be a thing!,” “This has SEMA written all over it. Do it do it,” and “Oh I beg you to make it” fill the comments section below the post that, at the time of this writing, has more than 650 likes. It is no indication that a 707-horsepower minivan is in the works by any means, but now that we’ve seen the Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee testing, there is no telling what might come next.

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FCA Prepares To Kill Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200

FCA Prepares To Kill Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200

Decline in sales and shifting consumer demand triggered FCA’s decision to cut ties with both models

Fiat-Chrysler is embarking on a new adventure as part of an updated five-year business plan that CEO Sergio Marchionne outlined in a recent presentation with investors. As with most updates of this type, changes have been made in the direction of the company and two models, the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200, have become unwitting casualties.

According to Marchionne, FCA will begin focusing its energy and resources into building more trucks and utility vehicles in response to what he describes as a “permanent shift in demand” in the market. Unfortunately for both the Dart and the 200, the pedestrian sales numbers of both cars made them expendable and with no signs in the horizon of both models improving their appeal to the public. FCA is now preparing its shovels for the two vehicles arguably untimely deaths.

With the Dart and the 200 out of the picture, FCA can realign its facilities to accommodate the production of more Jeep and Ram models. The company’s plants in Illinois where the Dart and the 200 were being built will now be used to increase the production of the Jeep Cherokee and Ram 1500.

It’s an ignominious exit for both models, especially for the Dart, which only returned to the automotive scene in 2012 after not being around since 1976. Dodge even had huge plans for the model at the time of its supposed comeback, even going so far as building numerous race and concept variants. But with the model turning out to be a sales dud, parent company FCA has deemed it – and the 200 – as baggage that it doesn’t want to carry moving forward.

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MOPAR Goes All Out For SEMA With 20+ Concepts

MOPAR Goes All Out For SEMA With 20+ Concepts

If there is one show that really brings the best out of Chrysler’s MOPAR tuning division, it is SEMA in Las Vegas.

Topping its past SEMA showcar roster, it looks like Mopar is once again pretty busy developing the models it will display in Las Vegas during the 2013 SEMA Show.

This year Mopar will bring no less than 20 heavily modified models, coming from Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat and SRT. Plus a few buyer customers from Chrysler’s Facebook challenge prize-winners.

The first teaser images revealed today show:

an updated Jeep Cherokee in various flavors some hot Fiat 500’s a Mopar Ram 1500 and the latest look for the Mopar Chrysler 300.

Those of you whom will be in Las Vegas this year will also have the chance to take a first look at the latest Jeep Performance Parts, developed by Mopar Off-Road Division and even for sale in many Jeep dealers.

The 2013 SEMA will open its door on November 5th, but stay tuned for all the pre-show news!

Click past the jump to read more about the Dodge Dart Slingshot - the model that made quite a sensation last year at SEMA.

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Chrysler Mulling Over Plans to Sell EVs and Announces Production of Fiat 500EV

Chrysler Mulling Over Plans to Sell EVs and Announces Production of Fiat 500EV

Chrysler has had only one mass-produced electrified vehicle in its history and that was the now-discontinued Durango hybrid. According to a report from Bloomberg, Chrysler is once again kicking around the thought of electrified vehicles, be it by 100 percent electricity or some sort of hybrid system.

Bob Lee, the head of Chrysler’s engine and electrified propulsion engineering department was quoted as saying “We do believe in electrification, sparingly and for the right kinds of targeted applications.” This basically means that Chrysler is taking its dive into electric propulsion very carefully until it knows that there is a market among Chrysler buyers.

That’s not a huge shock, considering that Chrysler was pulled from the financial flames twice in the last decade, or so – once by Daimler and once by Fiat. Chrysler is finally pulling in a profit and now it’s actually carrying its parent company, Fiat, on its shoulders to keep it from drowning in debt.

Speaking of Fiat, Lee also confirmed in the same report that Fiat is moving into production of the anticipated 500EV, the electric-powered Fiat 500. The 500EV will go into production later on this year and be ready for release sometime in the 2013 model year.

The 500EV will likely be the testing grounds for Chrysler to see if it is a profitable venture or not. We are willing to bet that buyers gobble up the 500EV and that Chrysler soon follows suit with a small EV of their own. Down the road, with fuel prices going how they are, we may even see the Viper utilizing a hybrid system, much like Ferrari is planing to install on its upcoming Enzo/F70.

We’ll keep an eye on this and let you know once there is some confirmation on a Chrysler with electric propulsion.

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Chrysler's Badly Needed Compact Cars Coming In 2012

Chrysler’s Badly Needed Compact Cars Coming In 2012

Expect good things from Chrysler in 2012, beginning with the first appearance of the Fiat-sourced Dodge Caliber replacement at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. To be built on a stretched version of Fiat’s high-volume compact platform, the new Dodge Caliber (or whatever the replacement will be called) will likely be the first in a series of new compacts from Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep. The Fiat platform is so versatile that it can be used for anything from compacts through mid-size vehicles, making it the ideal choice for a cost-conscious manufacturer like Chrysler.

Since Chrysler hasn’t focused on hybrids, electrics, or compact, fuel-saving engines to date, the automaker will have some catching up to do. Rumors say the new Chrysler compact cars will offer a range of normally-aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder engines, mated to eight and nine speed automatic transmissions for impressive fuel economy numbers. There’s even word of a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission, which probably means that a replacement for the Dodge Caliber SRT4 is in the works.

We had a chance to speak with SRT head, Ralph Gilles, last spring, and he was tight-lipped about what may or may not be in the development pipeline. He was enthusiastic about their upcoming compacts, however, as well as the bound-for-the-U.S. Fiat 500 Abarth. There’s no denying that the SRT8 versions of the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300 are fun to drive, but it looks like small-car Mopar fans will have a very good year ahead of them.

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Fiat 500 finally headed to America

Fiat 500 finally headed to America

After a long and lengthy absence, Fiat is finally returning to the US, and they’re bringing with them the 500 hatchback. The US-spec version of the minicar, which will be sold in the US through Chrysler, is set to make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, giving us a first-hand look at Fiat’s first offering to the US market after an extended absence in the country.

Earlier this week, the Italian auto conglomerate hosted a meeting with 400 of its car dealers to gauge the amount of interest for the 500 in America. Apart from these dealerships, Chrysler is also looking at opening about 165 Fiat dealerships across the country, more specifically in areas where there is a healthy market for small hatchbacks that the 1.4-liter 500 hatchback can take full advantage of.

According to Laura Soave, Head of Fiat Brand North America, “Our dealers will be able to interact with a group of individuals that are not part of their current customer base.”

“These are individuals interested in Italian automotive design coupled with fuel efficient technology," she adds.

As part of Fiat’s return to the US, the company is set to begin their retail network later this year with plans of bringing in the American version of the 500 and following that up with the release of the 500 Cabrio edition sometime in 2011.

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Compact car based on Hornet coming in 2010

Compact car based on Hornet coming in 2010

Thomas Hausch, Chrysler ’s vice president for international purchasing said that the company will unveil a compact car model based on the concept car Hornet in 2010. "We are working intensely on the Hornet study," Hausch said. "I think we will announce something on this in the future."

The future compact car will be available in Europe, the United States and other markets.

More and more companied go on smaller cars as soaring gasoline prices weigh on demand for gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks in the U.S. Also building compact cars may help reduce their dependence on the U.S. market, where the financial market crisis and high gas prices have led to a slump in car sales in past months.

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