By on January 7, 2012

Somebody broke an embargo somewhere. It wasn’t TTAC: everybody knows better than to send us this stuff. So here’s the Dart, and the initial details are reasonably encouraging for Mopar fans. Did somebody say Turbo? Did somebody say manual transmission with all three engines?

Somebody did. Base engine is the 160 horsepower two-liter which is currently available in the Compass. Six-speed manual or six-speed auto. Next up is the 1.4-liter Multiair Turbo. 160 horsepower, but more torque than the two-liter. Six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch. Then there’s a 184-horsepower, 2.4L normally-aspirated four-cylinder for the R/T. Six-speed manual (yes!) or six-speed automatic.

Length is 183.9 inches, which is pretty darn big for a compact car.

We will be covering the Dart as it appears at Detroit.

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112 Comments on “Detroit Preview: 2013 Dodge Dart Breaks Cover...”


  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Cool dash! Especially where you can select imperial (USA) or metric (the rest of the planet) Simple to export.Next step, your own themes for the dash (a la WinAmp!)

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    The engine and transmission combinations have called our readers’ bluff. “Buy me already, damn it!”

  • avatar
    Opus

    This is just SOO much better than the Caliber, I can’t WAIT!

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    The Dart looks good – and is a very important product for Chrysler. So far their best models need cheap fuel to keep selling (JGC, LX, RAM pickup), a competitive C class offering is vital to their long term success.

    If the Dart is as good as it looks, and if it is as reliable and durable as it’s namesake (or at least a Focus), the Chrysler turnaround may last…

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    In Sergio we trust…

    But seriously, a manual trans with all trim levels? A real honest to goodness (not a computer activated dual clutch thingy) manual transmission! This car just got on my radar.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Honda? Mazda? Hyundai/Kia? Are you listening? You CAN put a manual in more than the stripped down cars! I hope this car eats this segment’s lunch and spits in its face. I haven’t admired anything from Dodge that wasn’t a truck in a long time, but this car looks effing SWEET.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        Kvndoom Mazda had been listening. That is why you can get all the Mazda 3’s optioned with MT. Base, SkyisBlue, 2.3T and 2.5 Liter. Honda Civic can have content and even power. VW – Everything. Subaru Impreza – Yup.
        Ford Fucus (Until ST), chevy Cruze, Hyundai/Kia. You have a point.Only very base.

        The larger Mid/Fullsize is where the options are gone. Yet if get an automatic loaded Mazda6, Altima and Accord they reach the higher 20’s. The lower 30’s have the Acura TSX, Lexus IS250 and BMW 3 & maybe more. There are loaded options with MT. We just have to look. Or see the Passat / CC offers.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Hey Rental Man, the verdict is actually not in with Mazda yet. You cannot get a fully-loaded SkyActive 3 manual for 2012, and the 2.5’s are just being sold until they run out of leftover engines. We’ll see for sure when the 2013 lineup is announced later this year.

        Being pigeonholed into the Speed3 or the Civic Si kinda sucks, since those are the most costly trims. It seems to be all or nothing these days. (“All” being the high-performance model, and “nothing” being the stripped-down model with plastic hub caps)

        I’ve outgrown the compact segment now, but not the joy of driving a stick. For me, buying a car without 3 pedals would be like buying a car without AC or a steering wheel. I support and fear for this shrinking segment of drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      It doesn’t mean it will sell in the US. They are probably being produced for the international market, not here.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If those photos are an accurate representation of the new model, then I have to say: That is a damn nice looking car. Really.

    If you had told me five years ago that the most attractive compacts sold in America in 2012 would be coming from Ford and Chrysler, I would have laughed in your face, made a few choice comments about your mother, and dumped my drink in your lap. Joke’s on me, I guess.

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    Very nice. It looks like an Italianized Dodge Neon. It looks like they found the perfect midpoint between inoffensive and cutting edge with this design. Apparently this is supposed to become the new Fiat Linea overseas, as well. Hopefully the stickshift take rate is high, because then everyone else might officially be put on notice.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Exactly! It struck me as a cross between a Neon and a PT Cruiser. But the bottom line has got to be “whatever works”.

      Fiatsler needs to sell cars anyway they can. And if this Dart works for them, and for every rebadge of it that applies to different markets across the globe, I say go for it.

      The possibility of a stick shift and/or a Turbo will attract its own fans in this segment. When it comes to a four-banger, a stick shift is always better than a slushbox, but we’re not always given that option in America.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      It’s a good looking car. There’s a little bit of RSX/Civic Si in the stance, some Stratus/Intrepid in the shape of the rear, some Neon in the overall shape and a bit of Charger/Challenger in the head and tail lights. It looks sports, modern, classy, and like a Dodge all at the same time, who would have thought that was possible in a compact from Chrysler?

      • 0 avatar
        Eddie_515

        Is the pedigree really that American? It looks a whole lot like a bravo and stilo merged, updated.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        Never really been a mopar guy, born into a GM family..

        But this does not seem look like a Dart to me. Not saying they should do the whole retro thing. But a restyled Neon/Intrepid combo with a Lancia/Mitsubishi front end?

        I hate to be a hater, but I’m not digging it.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverHawk

      This sedan will be built in China, and sold as a Fiat. The preliminary
      concept photo showed to the Chinese automotive media looked like a Neon with updated front lamps. The resemblance was uncanny.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Not sure how the stickshift take rate can be high. Nobody in NA knows how to drive manuals anymore. Way back in the late 80s the US military converted to automatic trucks because they felt it was a waste of valuable time training recruits to drive manuals.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        Most people DO NOT want a stick shift. And the 3% of the population that says they do, about 1/10 of the 3% would actually consider this car, and buy it.

        For a business case, it makes little sense to offer a manual. What would they lose, about 1 sale per 10,000 cars sold?

        Offering a stick shift in every level of trim is one of those things that is waaaay cooler to talk about than actually do. In most areas of the US, traffic sucks.. at least where I live and the 10% of the time having a manual would be fun, is quickly negated by the other 90% of the time that it sucks.

        Dual clutch automatics is where the future is.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        Yes, the future belongs to dual-clutch automatics. Before long there will be no *objective* advantage to the manual transmission.

        This is not the same as saying “no reason for..” – enthusiasts will still buy them as a matter of heritage. I suspect that manuals will altogether disappear over the next decade here & in Europe from non-vintage racing and from cars other than those sold to acertain class of hoons. So the BRZs and MX-5s and Focus STs will have them, and nothing else.

        On the other hand what’s the argument against providing manuals if the company has one specced for a certain engine? Are we to imagine auto-makers so inflexible that they can’t cheaply provide choices in their cars?

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        moorewr: I don’t know enough about manufacturing to know how much more it costs them to co-produce manual variants along side the automatic equipped versions most people will want.

        There is the transmission itself, some different interior trim, and the clutch.

        Seems like if they have a manual that can work for an engine, it should be offered in whatever model is produced for that engine.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I don’t know enough about manufacturing to know how much more it costs them to co-produce manual variants along side the automatic equipped versions most people will want.

        Since they are presumably using the same manual transmission in European-market cars, there shouldn’t be much cost at all. I would expect that like anything else, it’s a matter of inventory management, i.e. not building too many for the market.

        I am the first to admit that demand for manuals is negligible. However, for a car like this, it makes sense to offer a stick in at least the higher trim levels. Enthusiasts are more easily turned into brand evangelists who provide free marketing. If giving a stick shift to those people turns them into fans who can influence other buyers to take an interest in the brand, then it couldn’t hurt. It is not uncommon for average car buyers to solicit the opinions of the “car guys” whom they know; the idea here would be to win over this niche so that they are inclined to talk up the product within their circle of influence.

        Personally, I think that it makes sense to target the ricer market with something like this. They are few in number, but they will eventually grow up, and will need larger sedans, CUVs, trucks and the like. It’s wise to build brand loyalty and a fan base, and if a shift knob and a nice stereo can accomplish that, then so be it. I wouldn’t bother with installing sticks in minivans, but the application is reasonable here.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      You know…without seeing it in person, the pictures (especially from the sides) made me think of exactly the same thing…a nicer looking Neon. Looks pretty good…not sure about the red outline of the dash, but to each his own. And while I applaud them for optioning all engines with a manual tranny, the take rates here in the US for AT vs MT will still largely favor AT…but at least the relatively smaller demographic of “enthusiast driver” will have a choice…

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        I’m thinking the dash lights will be controlled by their own separate rheostat like they are in all other Chrysler automobiles.

        One thing no one noticed: NO MORE CHEAP ASIAN-STYLE HEADLIGHT SWITCH ON THE TURN-SIGNAL STALK!

        *WIN*

  • avatar

    When Chrysler brought back the Challenger and Charger nameplates, the press materials were full of historical Mopars. It will be interesting to see if they give a nod to the old school Darts.

  • avatar
    djn

    Beware Italian labor labor unions Its just a pebble throw to producing Giuliettas in the USA and sending them to Europe

  • avatar

    I’m ok with Jack saying “yes” to manuals unlike all the rest.

  • avatar
    whynot

    Its a great looking car, but the front of the limited (white model) which can be seen on other sites looks so much better than the front of the R/T model. The black bumper isn’t too bad but it looks nicer without the black trim between the grille and headlights.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Surely I’m not the only one who thought “Volkswagen” upon seeing the front end shot? My first thought was that this is what the current Jetta could have looked like–a logical progression of the previous series that adheres to VW’s latest design language–had they spent more than $50 on its looks. So the Dart is kinda derivative, but still good on Chrysler for producing a nice looking compact at last.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Looks very good. I can’t wait to see one for myself. This spring I plan to replace my trusty old Protege. If this looks like a quality car it will be on my short list. I just have a hard time trusting the first year from any maker.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    The interior and exterior shots are appealing. I can already hear the howls from the dealers who opted for those exclusive FIAT showrooms and laughter from those who decided to stick with just selling Dodge. It’s far too easy to predict this is going to outsell the 500 but I’ll push it further and say you can add an extra 0 to 2012’s Fiat 500 sales and they still won’t approach the Dart’s numbers.

    The length does split the difference between other automakers’ compact and mid size sedans, although it is definitely shorter than Chrysler’s late-60s through mid-70s “compact” cars.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Felis…not sure why you compare the Dart to the 500…not really the same class of car, much less demographic/target audience for the two. Pretty much like saying it’d be easy to predict that the Fusion outsells the Mustang…

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I make the comparison in hindsight to the botched 500 launch and yes, I do know they’re definitely not competing for identical demographics. However, for all their investment, those dealers who bought into Sergio’s plan for the relaunch of FIAT are definitely unhappy with the current returns on same. Now, faced with another year of “wait and see” while armed only with the subcompact in their lineup, those dealers are going to see the much more appealing, albeit significantly larger, Dart moving in far greater quantities as the reworked Guilietta hits the lots of their separate Dodge dealerships. I know most of the FIAT operations are part of a combined dealership including Chrysler and Dodge branded showrooms with just a separate structure as the showcase, but the only one near me is an hour’s drive north and equipped with a treated fabric roof. That can’t be very pleasant for the denizens tasked with selling the 500.

  • avatar
    cft925

    A pleasant surprise… Just about anything would be an improvement over the Caliber stylingwise, but this car looks great inside and out, and should be a viable entry in what has become a competitive segment. I wish the R/T had more power so it could compete with the likes of the WRX and Evo.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Nice looking car, I must say.
    So Jack, reckon there will be a racing series for these little babies? And if there are, d’ya reckon you’ll partake?

  • avatar
    LeadHead

    The Internet is going crazy over the photos. Over 400 comments on the AutoBlog article. Jalopniks’s has over 350. I suspect TTACs comment amount will be up too. There’s a ton of excitement over this car.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    Zeke: No, you’re not alone, because I saw “Volkswagen” in the front, as well. A Neon-like shape from the A-pillars back, coupled with a design similar to the current somewhat bland Jetta/Passat nose. Maybe the running gear will prove to be as interesting as Jack has outlined, but the basic shape disappoints a bit, when compared to the teaser images . . .

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Wow, this looks damn sharp – and for a sedan at that!

    That said, I love how they toned down the cross hairs so they aren’t as in your face as they are on the Charger, which cuts the sinister look down a bit.

    I love the red stripping found on the dash and the red stitching on the seats too.

    I love the fact that dodge is bucking a trend and adding a manual to all engine choices here, a nice way to go.

    I’ve suspected that once the automatic became common in the 1950’s and 60’s, the vast majority of the cars built by the Detroit automakers were purposefully designed for an automatic only and so we Americans often had no choice but to buy an automatic and so that may explain the lack of a manual option here in the US as other marquess from overseas fell into this mindset as well.

    If this thing sells well, Chrysler, and by extension Dodge will be just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      I’ve suspected that automatics, once they became refined enough to be somewhat useful, became popular because the majority of American car-buyers are lazy drivers.. this being facilitated by the desire in America for comfortable long-distance cruising over ‘Top-Performance Uber Alles’.

      AFAIK Most European designed engines, performance or no, are designed to have a fairly high rev-limit and thus high top horse-power and a steep torque-curve that peeks late to encourage keeping it ‘on the boil’ because it makes it sound ‘sporty’.

      American engines by contrast don’t rev as high and achieve peak-torque early, so they don’t need to down-shift to deliver useable power, and so Jeremy Clarkson can spin-out when he tries to take a Corvette around a corner while treating it like a Ferrari. ^.^

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        I believe the manuals that were offered in American cars prior to the advent of decent autos like the TH350 and TH400 were pretty crappy. That coupled with a really heavy clutch for the monster V8s these cars had, it seems pretty logical that most people would want an auto.

        My brother had a Chevelle, that came equipped from the factory with a stick. Someone prior to him owning it, put a powerglide in it. My brother put the 4 speed and clutch back in.

        It was definitely quicker with the 4 speed, but man did the transmission have a lot of drag in it.. While a powerglide/4 speed comparison is not the best in favor of an automatic.. A TH350 or 400 would have made it a much better driver.

  • avatar
    gogogodzilla

    Is it just me, or does the interior dashboard look like it’s made of hard plastic?

    Plus, I hope it doesn’t have to have a red-highlighted interior. I don’t like red inside a car. Same for the night lighting, no red… please.

  • avatar
    bts

    Any news on a hatch or coupe variant? Since it’s replacing the Caliber it feels like a huge omission if they don’t have a hatchback body style covered.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      It’s based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, although larger. Just do yourself a favor and don’t look up the Giulietta hatch. You will assume the fetal position and whimper all day for not being able to touch its hotness.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Sergio does not want any “overlapping” Chrysler/Dodge models, so there will be no Dart hatch. Instead, we will get a hatchback Chrysler when the new Lancia Delta is introduced (Chrysler 100? PT Cruiser?). However, there are rumors of a coupe version of the Dart, maybe a wagon too!

  • avatar

    That 160 hp number for the 2.0L is significantly higher than Patriot and Compass get from their 2.0L engines. Is this due to MultiAir being added or is it a product of retuning the engines to operate at higher revs for max horsepower?

    E: Nevermind, just looked back at the specs for that engine. 158 hp in Pat and Compass.

    Regardless, Dart is a very attractive sedan. In my humble opinion the most attractive small car that’s been built in quite a long time, and I hope it does very well for Chrysler.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The only MOPAR product I would have considered this morning was a Challenger.

    Tonight there are now two, if the specs are real. Need to keep fingers crossed that even though manuals are available with all three engines, that Dodge won’t equate premium options with an automatic requirement like so many other manufacturers.

  • avatar
    Invalidattitude

    It seems the youtube has some new footage, and its darn cool in motion. Looks hundred times more refined than any other current MOPAR (not to mention the Caliber).

  • avatar
    mac

    So, I get why we can’t have cars with low, sleek noses anymore – pedestrian safety laws and all that. But WHY, WHY I ask, does everything built nowadays have that stupid, godawful sharply angled beltline? Why even bother to install a rear window?

    I miss 3-box sedans.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I was kind of hoping for an Americanized Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback version – but the updated Neon 4-door styling might be better suited for the mainstream US car buyer, who prefers a trunk.

    No doubt – this is what the doctor ordered for the Dodge brand. Next on the agenda, the Avenger will need a total remake.

  • avatar
    sidedraft36

    Gotta give it to FIAT/Chrysler/whatever for actually having the b*lls to think about building cars with manual transmissions. This must be the work of the Italians…no American product planner in his/her right mind would even suggest such a crazy idea. I mean what are there, 50 of us left who still know how to use a clutch?

    ps. I predict one of the two 160 hp motors will vanish before the first major restyle.

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    WE ARE THE 3%, WE ARE THE 3%, WE ARE THE 3% !!!!!!! We are the 3% that can and wants to drive Stick in the US.

    It is not easy. There might be more of us out there yet they have obsticles in their way. Wife does not want to drive it, Commute in urban areas, People who need to drive a van, Minivan and more don’t even get a Manual option. (Mazda5 is too small for most.

    I’m happy Dodge is going down this road. I also have a feeling that they may cut the option down to 1-2 engins & reduce options as MT inventories pile up. I’m happy we can find MT in most car categories as long as we are willing to pay and/or special order.

    We are still just the 3% of the US market & the slim offers reflect that. Seek however and you will find.

    • 0 avatar
      jet_silver

      Rental Man, I went looking for that 3% statistic and cannot find the take rate of MT in the US market; perhaps my Google-fu is failing. If it’s right it’s just astonishing. Would you mind sharing where the 3% number comes from?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        According to the EPA, 5% of the new light duty vehicles sold in 2008 and 2009, and 7% of those sold in 2010, had manual transmissions.

        http://www.epa.gov/otaq/cert/mpg/fetrends/420s10002-exec-sum-tables.xls

        Honestly, I’m surprised that it’s even that high. But it’s easy to guess that those that are sold these days are overrepresented by a few models.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        This article from 2/2010 says 5.5%
        http://autos.aol.com/article/stick-shift-love-affair/

        Also, found this just published article: “Manual Transmission Vehicles, the Ultimate List” – might be useful someday
        http://www.motortrend.com/features/consumer/1101_manual_transmission_vehicles_the_ultimate_list/viewall.html

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        For the MINI, the take rate is an impressive 34%!

        http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2011/09/mini-keeping-manuals-alive-with-34-take-rate.html

        The article adds that across all cars in the U.S., manuals account for 5-6%.

        My Mazda dealer said he sees about a 9% take rate.

        No reason the Dart can’t at least have an above average take rate for manual transmission. It’s a good looking car with nice specs.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I know manual transmissions would still be a minority, but I think the take rate would be a few percentage points higher if dealers actually ordered manuals for their lots.

      I’m sure a lot of people can’t/won’t wait for special orders, and even then dealerships may not cooperate. I can understand why dealers don’t want to risk having a manual sit on their lot. The downward spiral is unstoppable at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      Maybe it’s 5-7% . still does not make a hugh part of the market. When the savethestick move came out I thought I read about 3%. Either way, Bad for us looking for variaty.

  • avatar
    dwford

    So, over the last two years we have gotten the Fiesta/Focus, Sonic/Cruze, Accent/Elantra, The new Rio and now the Dart. Japan’s response: The new Civic, new Camry, new Versa and new Yaris – all with questionable styling, outdated drivetrains, and carryover chassis. I hope for Japan’s sake that the upcoming Altima, Accord, Mazda6, Sentra are all stellar, or the next few years are going to be tough.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Despite that, Camry is selling like hotcakes, so is the Versa, Civic is # 1 in Canada and the new Yaris has been getting good press in Europe, this Dart is just one more of Sergio’s Frankensteinish creations, Cruze and Fiesta been having quality issues, Sonics cannot be stopped and Volt catches fire, oh yeah, the Japanese are trembling!

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        GM had great sales for years selling crap. But each year a few more people bled off as they realized there were better options. The Japanese face the same fate if they don’t get back to making interesting cars.

        Don’t forget the massive recalls Honda and Toyota have had over the last 2 years. No one seems immune to quality issues these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Despite what? The Camry hybrid and V6 powertrains are both clearly best in class and you could make a serious case for the I4 as well.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      As has been reported here numerous times by Bertel, the Japanese don’t see the Detroit automakers as serious competition. Also, with the high yen the Japanese have no choice but to cut costs – this shows in things like the latest Versa remake, or the fact that Honda chooses to send a Chinese made Fit to North America. So the Japanese didn’t really expect Detroit to come up with improved products (although they were worried about the rise of Korea), and they can’t really afford to sell products that meet the newly revitalized (Detroit) or new (Korea) competitors head on.

      The outdated drivetrains kind of remind me of some of the late malaise era Detroit products – like many current Japanese products they were equipped with powertrains that were world class when introduced, but had been in production for a long time and were now outclassed by newer, better offerings from other manufacturers.

      The Japanese still have some time – they have a large base of satisfied customers – but they have can’t go on like this forever otherwise it will be time for TTAC to start another “Deathwatch” series…

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        I am seeing more and more young guys driving boring Camry’s and Corolla’s and even Yaris, I guess these days they care more about electronics than cars. To a growing majority, it’s just about getting from A to B without much hassle or expense

      • 0 avatar

        I asked my daughter what car she wanted in the abstract, she said “large and comfortable”. Oops for the Fit and Cube, possibly a win for Accord — or even Venza. No wonder that bloated and decontented sells (think Jetta) if the key demographics lean that way. Of course that’s just 1 person, so a big if.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    It would seem like a foregone conclusion that a 5-door hatchback version of the Dart (aka Alfa Romeo Giulietta) will be rebadged and sold as a Fiat in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      WriterParty.com

      AKA: the next Fiat Grande Punto Evo whatever. The current one is, for all intensive purposes, a Fiat Linea hatch, and the Dodge Dart will be the next Fiat Linea overseas.

      • 0 avatar
        JJ

        If by overseas you mean South America, cause it won’t be sold in Europe (this Dart). Also, the FIAT Grande Punto is smaller than this car. This one is based on the Giulietta platform that is in only slightly different form also used by the current Lancia Delta and FIAT Bravo.

        I’m not sure if the Giulietta will be sold in the US at all. If they would offer it, it probably would just be as an Alfa, cause it would be rather expensive in $ terms (if still build over here in Europe at that is). And because it would be kind of expensive, I think Serge already hinted that the Giulietta won’t be sold in the US, cause he figured it would be perceived as too small for the price by American buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        There must have been a hangover after that “writer party,” because it’s “for all intents and purposes.”

        https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/for_all_intensive_purposes

  • avatar
    340-4

    Want!

    Since the C-Evo platform will be underpinning newer AWD Jeep models, can we hold out hope for an AWD R/T model of the Dart?

    Imagine something aimed at the WRX.

    And what of the coming Focus ST? I smell an SRT Dart in the oven…

    Now let’s see if they make the car available in some better interior and exterior colors. B5 blue, anyone?

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Im holding out for the Dart Swinger!!!

  • avatar
    obruni

    kudos to Dodge for finally making a class competitive vehicle that isn’t a truck or van

    the 1.4 multiair engine looks like the pick of the bunch.

  • avatar
    modelt1918

    Really? you want to buy this car? This is a Alfa Romeo. Didn’t you learn anything the last time they were on these shores? Alfas….suck! They always look good and they will disapoint you in the end. They will become just another good looking car in the “junkyard find” a few years from now!

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Dude, you are living in the past. That just doesn’t apply to the cars Alfa Romeo and Fiat offer today. It’s 2012, embrace the modern age!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        That just doesn’t apply to the cars Alfa Romeo and Fiat offer today.

        Actually, it does. Look at the JD Power survey in the UK for an example. All of the Fiats get 2 stars or 3 stars, on a 5-star scale. Relative to the competition, they perform toward the bottom.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Ladies and gentlemen, this is what bailouts and shotgun mergers have given us: the Fiasler Neon.

        Great style, decent performance, some attractive features… and, if history is any indication, a total clusterf*** for quality and reliability.

        Remember these wise words: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s as true for new “Mopar” subcompacts as it is for bowtie-badged Daewoos.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Mama Mia! This is a beautiful little bambino! Chrysler/Fiat marriage producing very attractive offspring.

  • avatar

    I agree with others, it looks like a modern and refined Neon. So much so in fact that perhaps they should have kept it named that. Or used the Hornet name they’ve been talking about for years.

    The biggest issue I have with the car out of the gate is just that, it’s called a Dart. The Dart name is still the butt of poor quality and reliability jokes on Car Talk.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      @TriShield
      The last Chrysler product I wanted to own is a Plymouth Duster, but I think the Dart is pretty well remembered by those old enough (or close to it) to drive one.

      I wouldn’t take the Car Talk guys too seriously, as the gag is that Tom would turn any car into a mess–and keep driving it.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “The biggest issue I have with the car out of the gate is just that, it’s called a Dart. The Dart name is still the butt of poor quality and reliability jokes on Car Talk.”

      I disagree – long before Toyota and Honda figured out how to build reliable cars, the Dart was the gold standard in durability. The longevity of the slant six / torqueflite used in the Dart is legendary, there is a slant six powered ex Montreal taxi with 2,609,698 km (1,621,591 miles). http://www.allpar.com/old/high-miles/vaillancourt.php

      Refinement and build quality of the original Darts would not be up to modern standards, but then a 1963 Toyopet wouldn’t look very good to modern eyes either.

      The Neon had many positive attributes, but the name has been tainted by problematic head gaskets and cheap plastic parts. The Dart name harkens back to a time when Mopar was known for engineering prowess and powertrain quality, and fits in well with the “we’ve done good things in the past, we can do them again” theme of much of their recent advertising.

      • 0 avatar
        mjz

        Excellent summation. I think Dart is the perfect choice.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        This is where the Marchionne marketing team starts to stumble.

        My guess is this: Somebody looked at the lineup and noticed some of these “legacy” nameplates, such as Charger and Challenger. They figured that they would do the same with the compact.

        That’s a mistake. The “Dart” name doesn’t have much heritage, and in any case, heritage doesn’t sell mass market Detroit compacts. (The last thing that we need is a Vega for the modern age.) For all of its flaws (and personally, I thought that the Neon was a POS), the average consumer probably has some sense that a Neon is a compact car. Fewer of them will remember the Dart, or see the connection between this one and the last ones.

        In addition to trying to convince people that it is good enough for them to buy it, Chrysler-Fiat has now also imposed upon themselves the added challenge of educating the public about what a “Dart” is. This second bit of self-inflicted burden could have been reduced had they called it a Neon (my preference) or even a Caliber. Change the car, but be consistent with the nameplates — the name changes just create confusion.

      • 0 avatar

        For me Dart has no meaning. I have no idea what Dart was and how it looked, was it large or compact. For me Dart is some fresh name compared to Neon which was cool in 90s.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Most people that remember the old Dodge Dart remember them as reliable (if boring) daily transportation. They were, after all, essentially the same as the anvil-solid Plymouth Valiant.

      A more important consideration for using the ‘Dart’ name is simply alliteration. Just as Chevrolet tended to use car names that begin with ‘C’ (or, better still, ‘Ch’) and most Ford car names begin with an ‘F’, so, too, has Dodge used car names that begin with a ‘D’.

      Frankly, I would have thought they’d use ‘Demon’ and resurrect the little cartoon guy with the pitchfork.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Another compact based on a Euro platform? Better not have a high price and tight backseat like the Focus. Otherwise, Chrysler is looking at poor sales. Also, I’m not buying into this low-pressure turbo thing (Cruze, Focus, etc). Sounds like an expensive headache down the road.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    This looks really good and can’t come soon enough for Dodge.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    The front of this car reminds me a lot of the current Honda Insight, which isn’t a bad thing. The styling is fairly contemporary without being over-the-top (Sonata, especially the hybrid). This car will be hyped for its styling, touch screen LCD whatevers in the cabin and “turbo engines”. God I hope they don’t call them something like “EcoBoost”.

    Turbo engines hooked up to manual transmissions sound cool. Let’s wait and see how it actually drives.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I guess I’m the only one who’s not impressed by the styling. Meh.

    Hate the interior, with that red stripe running around the dash. Probably does a lot for teens and twenty-somethings. It’s probably not intended for a guy my age in the first place.

    I have mixed feelings about the naming issue. I’m plenty old enough to remember Dart, and for me it is synonymous with compact car. But most buyers probably don’t recall the Dart. (Too bad Plymouth is gone, otherwise we could have a Valiant version) The Neon name has more currency, but that can be bad too. Dodge needs people to come look at this thing, and Neon doesn’t create a lot of positive vibe. Dodge not only has to tell people what a Dart is, it has to convince them that FOPAR products are worth taking a look at. At least they don’t have to convince people that the new “Neon” isn’t really the old junky Neon you remember. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

  • avatar
    mike978

    It looks intriguing but the R/T engine choice is terrible. 184hp to compete with the likes of the GTi (200), Civic Si (200), MazdaSpeed 3 and Focus ST (c. 250hp). And the torque figure of 145lb/ft is really terrible compared to any of those I listed. I know there will probably be an SRT version but the R/T needs more than 25hp to differentiate it from the lower engine models. The 1.4 sounds like it will probably be nearly as fast in real life due to its greater torque at a lower rpm.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I doubt the R/T is meant to go head-to-head with the GTI, Si, and certainly not the ST/MS3. That’s what the SRT-4 will be for. The R/T is more equivalent to, say, the Mazda3 2.5 – just a bigger engine option.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I see your point but I would have thought the SRT version would be like a MazdaSpeed 3, or a Golf R or even the Focus RS, i.e. 250hp or so. The more restrained hot hatches like the GTi (200hp – same as a base Sonata) is surely not too much to expect. What I found most disappointing is the torque (145 when it needs to be near 200lb/ft at a reasonable rpm).

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Not to mention the 1.4 will probably have a lighter nose and get better mileage. Turbos make me nervous for long-term reliability though.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Don’t forget the last SRT-4– the same 2.4 with a turbo, 300hp. These Dart engines are all carry-overs– they’ll shoehorn that 2.4 turbo in eventually. They’ve just left it out and will add it when the car needs its first sales boost.

        With what they’re offering at launch, most buyers should be happy with the car– the 2.0/2.4 engines have not had any known issues. Mechanical reliability should be class-competitive, but the electronics systems are so new, it wouldn’t be strange to see ‘quality’ scores at-odds with real world reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        “the 2.0/2.4 engines have not had any known issues” -> *That* is what they need to live up to the Dart name – and more importantly, to continue their sales growth.

        It’s obvious that Chrysler has been putting more money into the parts you can see in the past couple of years, in another couple of years we will see if they have upped the quality on the parts you can’t see as well.

        If these cars are at least class competitive in reliability and durability, Chrysler will stick around for a while. Given the rise of the Yen (or fall of the Dollar), along with the elimination of many legacy costs during the bankruptcy, they have an opportunity to offer more car for the money than the Japanese – let’s hope they take advantage of this to start rebuilding their battered reputation.

        It’s more important that the Dart be reliable than something like an SRT Challenger. They will sell in greater volumes, be driven daily, and in many cases will be a new customers first experience with the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        *That* is what they need to live up to the Dart name – and more importantly, to continue

        Aside from Mopar fans (and there aren’t many of those), there are few people who associate the Dart name with much of anything.

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        “Aside from Mopar fans (and there aren’t many of those), there are few people who associate the Dart name with much of anything.”

        Well, considering many folks associate “Caliber” and “Neon” with “shit,” Dart is an improvement!

        Seriously, I’m glad to see them pull a name from their past, even if the only folks who recognize it are car nuts and old people.

        Regardless, you’re putting way too much into the name. As they used to say, “if the car is good, the name will be good.” After all, Corolla, Camry, Accord, and Civic are all really stupid names for cars, if you think about it. But the cars are/were good, so people like the names.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This appears to be a winner. I just hope it comes with a good stereo sound system, because that’s one of the major reasons a young driver would buy it. Sad, as I like it a great deal judging by the photos alone.

    A base model available with a stick? Whoda thunk it?

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      Not just a good stereo system, but all sorts of gimmicky “tech” in the cockpit.

      It has to be iPod compatible, have some sort of a touch screen interface that controls every single thing: windows, powerseats, hvac, stereo, headlights, turn-signals, etc It needs to have satellite radio, blue tooth, wi-fi, built in Yelp (like BMW is offering) maybe even built in facebook too. You know, if you drive by someplace you like, you can “like it”. And then all of your friends on facebook, know that you like a certain place.

      Going to Yellowstone, and you get there and like it? Why not tell the world with the push of one button that you like it? Now you can in your facebook equipped vehicle.

      A car with all of this would be a tech junkies wet dream come true.

  • avatar
    mzr

    Have turbos gone down in reliability? My ’93 940 had a small turbo, and had 150,000 miles on the original turbo with no problems.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    The front looks a lot like a Mitsubishi…not a bad thing, just saying.

  • avatar
    VelocityRed3

    My first (new) car was a 1990 Dodge Shadow, that I bought in July of 1990. They have come a long, long way ;-)

  • avatar
    gslippy

    That car’s certainly a ‘challenger’ to the Elantra, in the looks department, anyway.

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