By on October 10, 2017

Dodge Dart Audi A8 rear end - Images: FCA & AudiMy Dodge Dart awareness is not what it should be. I’m not fully up to speed on the Dodge Darts of yore. Despite my parents’ ownership of a Dart, the 1960-1976 period was not an era in which I was a sentient being.

As for the newer Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based Darts, I’m not fully on board with America’s rejection of the car. By the end of its second full year, nearly 200,000 Dodge Darts had been sold. Sales increased yet again in 2015. But without factory support, real demand was rather limited. Only 43,402 Darts were sold in the United States in 2016, the year Dart production came to a premature end.

Man, I loved that car. Oh, I don’t mean the way it drove, and certainly not the way it shifted. I’m not talking about interior packaging or its engine lineup or its interior quality. Whatever. Pfft. Who cares. I just genuinely liked the way it looked: the proudly Dodge front end, those completely wheel-filled arches, and especially that distinctive rear end.

I’m therefore pleased to see Audi resurrecting that look for the fourth-generation 2018 Audi A8, the brand’s flagship sedan.

2018 Audi A8 and 2016 Dodge Dart - Images: Audi & DodgeTired, tired is what I am of the internet tendency to link every new vehicle design to another. Yes, a new midsize sedan looks a bit like an existing midsize sedan. Whoopee-ding. There’s bound to be some similarities in new three-box sedans with virtually identical dimensions — what’s the big deal? Even completely unrelated humans with massively diverse gene pools sometimes produce doppelgängers. (This is not the same person.)

But even I’m not immune to seeing comical similarities. And while you’d expect to see such similarities between, say, the silhouette of a new Nissan Titan and a Ford F-150, more surprising is the degree to which the next-generation Audi A8 cribs its rear end design from the discontinued Dodge Dart.Audi A8 third-gen rear pre and post facelift - Images: AudiOver the course of the third-generation A8’s tenure, Audi revealed an increasing desire to connect the A8’s taillamps, but the company couldn’t quite pull the trigger following the 2013 refresh that brought the lights closer together. With the all-new fourth-generation A8, however, Audi has run full steam ahead with the Dart/Charger/Durango theme. Sure, it’s more Dart than Charger (which decreases the strict horizon) or Durango (which exaggerates the outer lamps). And yes, it is really just the lights, not the trunklid shape or bumper detail or license plate positioning.

Oh, but what lights, what signature, what telltale Dodge Audi style.

Regardless, if stylistic connections between flagship Audis and discontinued compact Dodges are a problem for you buyers of $80,000+ Audi A8s, well, you just didn’t love the Dodge Dart enough then, did you. You’ll have to take solace in the fact that, rear aside, the Audi A8 and Dodge Dart bear no resemblance to one another whatsoever.

[Images: Audi, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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46 Comments on “Hey, If Audi Wants the New 2018 A8 to Look Like a Discontinued Dodge Dart, I’m Okay With That...”

  • avatar

    “Despite my parents’ ownership of a Dart, the 1960-1976 period was not an era in which I was a sentient being.”

    Blasphemy!! :D

    • 0 avatar

      You were born too late to enjoy the sweet symphony of a Slant Six- especially the percussion section in the valve gallery and its twelve adjustment screws that did remained anything but adjusted, the bass section at the exhaust manifold-downpipe flange with it’s leaky gasket and only two studs holding things together, the tenor growl of the loooong #1 and #6 intake runners, and the other part of the percussion section, that geared Mopar starter, lacking an electric brake, spooling down after cranking the engine.

      That’s the way it was and we liked it!!

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I grew up with these. From my dad’s 63 Valiant with the 170 with 3 on the tree. The 68 Valiant with the 225 also with the 3 on the tree. As well as my moms 72 Dart Swinger with the 225, auto and most options including AC and the lighting package that included a map light and the fender mounted turn signals.

        Not only the sweet symphony the the valve gallery that my dad would adjust with his feeler wrench set but the unique high pitched sound of the alternator when you started it.

      • 0 avatar

        I went to high school with a guy that owned a Slant Six-powered ’64 Valiant. You’ve never heard a sound like a Slant Six manually shifted down to first gear (engine braking FTW!), using the pushbutton A904 like a manumatic. Who needs flappy paddles when you’ve got pushbuttons?

  • avatar

    Looks more like a Continental ass to me.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t look like Dart, OK?

  • avatar

    Will the center section even light up, or is that just red reflectors?

  • avatar

    This is probably one of the most desperate posts to get clicks in the past year or so.

  • avatar

    What’s going on with the first dart pic? There’s a line to the right of the license plate that extends to some wart near the end. Bad photoshopping?

  • avatar

    BREAKING NEWS: 10 years ago, Honda started knocking off Audi taillights.

    I call this design cue the “Eagle Staredown” because, well, it looks like two eagles about to peck each other’s eyes out.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m with you on the Dart. It is one of the best-looking cars of the last decade, but it was plagued with lousy drivetrains.

    I’d really like to see a Dart EV, which would fix the drivetrain problems.

    • 0 avatar

      I felt the same exact way about the new Dart (well, how it looked, anyway) and was genuinely excited one day when I got one as a one-way rental a few months ago. To say the actual driving experience was a let-down would be a massive understatement. Few times have I ever been that happy to give up the keys of a rental. It was punishing. Sad that a car that looked so good (to me, at any rate) be so completely horrid to drive?

      • 0 avatar

        I wonder if they kept the Alfa suspension tuning what would have happened. They were trying to sell them to enthusiasts at first, when the only way to get the 2.4 was with a manual. I liked the concept of the vehicle, until I drove one. They could have improved it.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve never driven one, but the times I’ve ridden in my co-worker’s Dart did not want me to run out and buy one. Rubbery suspension, cramped back seat, and the 2.4L wasn’t the smoothest thing out there. Not a very refined car.

    • 0 avatar

      I drove a ’16 Dart Rallye with the 2.4 and six-speed automatic, and it was more than acceptable. FCA did a nice job with the driving experience, but really dropped the ball when it came to details (like the cheap interior, or the seats that felt like you were sitting on them versus in them, or the hood prop rod, which burned your hand if you opened the hood right after turning the engine off…none of that would have passed muster anywhere else but Dodge).

      If you drive a Dart back to back with something like a Civic, there’s just no contest.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        My test drives were first on a 1.4T/6M, followed by the 2.0/6A. The turbo was laggy and peaky, and the 2.0 was rough and weak.

        The Hyundai-sourced 6-speed automatic was good, though.

        The Dart would have been awesome with the Pentastar 3.6 V6 or a 200-HP electric drivetrain.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I’ve always thought they were a cut above other compacts in styling and handling. The NYT gave it a very good. review when it came out. Too bad Sergio did not want to iron out its issues or offer AWD like the 200.
        I see leftover 2016 models in GT trim with the 2.4 and the 6 speed manual or automatic for well under $20k. A decent deal for a commuter car or a 2nd or 3rd for a family.

        • 0 avatar

          The Dart served its purpose by getting two governments to gift Chrysler to Fiat, with government loans thrown in, just for the promise of a thrifty compact. You can’t beat the price, and Jeep has kept Fiat semi-solvent. Otherwise, the Italian automaker would have been deceased by now.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the suspension tuning was fine. I have put a couple 1,00 miles on my fathers 1.4 6m. It rides and handles better then just about anything it’s class circa 2013 when it came out (save the cruz or a golf). I much prefer the ride to the focus for example or the elentra. Put the powertrains were an issue. The 1.4 had a weird power band that did not work in a car that heavy. The 2.0 and 2.4 are fairly old engines. The car on a whole is mixup of trying hard and not trying. The ride is good it’s really quiet for a compact the seats are comfortable. The seat fabric is cheap and half the interior is fine the other half cost cut. Shame with a few updates it would have been great.

  • avatar

    I fully endorse Tim’s love of the AlfaDart. The first time I saw a picture, I couldn’t quite believe how sharp it looked, and when they started showing up in the streets, it was clearly the best looking car in its class. Its abbreviated life was a loss for all of us.

    • 0 avatar

      It looked great, and I’ll go with it being an above-average driver for the class.

      But, God, was that thing cheaply made. Drive one back to back with, say, a Golf or a Civic, and the roots of its’ failure are evident.

  • avatar

    Correction: it’s a 2019 Audi A8L. A little research please. And yes…it looks more like a Continental.

  • avatar


    Just yesterday people were commenting here how Audi looks the most “GERMAN” of German cars, while Mercedes looks too un-German.

    Yeah about that…..

  • avatar


  • avatar

    The back ends look nothing alike. I mean you may as well say Audi copied Dodge because they had the audacity to fit the A8 with a rear window
    (like the Dart) and a trunk lid (like the Dart) and dual exhaust (like the Dart).

    Don’t even get me started on how Audi copied the Dart and gave the A8 4 wheels…..

    You want to talk about true automotive copying talk aout how the Lincoln Navigator copied the Durango or the F-150 copied the Tundra…..

  • avatar

    It doesn’t look like a Dart, but it sure is ugly. Even Audi is ripping off MB’s “long and narrow” design language.

  • avatar

    Glad someone else saw the Dart in the A8 also. I thought the same thing a few days ago watching a review of the new Audi.

  • avatar

    I…don’t see it, at all. What I do see is the ungainly proportions that many comment on regarding compact sedans. Short, squat, and Hot Wheels.

  • avatar

    Didn’t the old Mark VIII have a red light straight across its rear like the Dart/A8? I know some domestic car from the 1990’s did.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I see a direct resemblance to the current 7-Series BMW which added the full width chrome strip and reflector.
    Top line models usually get the more luxurious trims.

    Take a look at the mid-60’s Buick Electra 225 vs a LeSabre. The 225 had a very attractive full width taillight with chrome aluminum trim to distinguish it as top of the heap.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Even a blind man would never mistake an Audi A8 for a Dart, simply by the difference in width alone.

  • avatar

    No, no it does not. The only thing similar is the bump in the middle of the tail light bar. Literally no other angle or curve looks similar.

  • avatar

    It reminds me of the rear of a Ford Contour.

  • avatar

    Why not search 2010 Saab 9-5. Much closer to the look.

  • avatar

    I see current-model VW Passat, especially the chrome strip. FWD 90s era Continental too, unfortunately.

    In 2013 we went car shopping…started at the Dodge store…quickly retreated to the friendly Honda dealer and got 2 2013 Civics. The Darts were simply horrid. The last MoPar product in my family was a ’78 Dodge Omni my dad bought new…traded in a ’69 Delta 88. The Omni fell apart within 3 years and 60,000 miles and that it for Chrysler products.

    I have driven a 2005ish A8L and it was sublime…W12 engine, Alcantara headliner, champagne cooler in the rear center armrest. If I ever hit it big, I’d get one in a heartbeat. In the interim, my Jetta will have to do…2 kids in college burning up money, you know.

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