Nailed it, missed it who cares about the bullseye. Hands down the Dart is one of the sexiest compacts in 2013.
Narrated by an unknown voice the scenes flashing here, now there, now start over, then move over here, then the final product reveal. The new Dodge commercials manage to arouse curiosity to satisfy their intent; but it’s what’s behind this catchy advertising that interests us most. A new breed in compact sedans: The Dodge Dart.
Dodge has been tasked to create a small sedan for the compact segment of the motor vehicle market. However, their success in this category has been flawed since the original Neon came out in the 90’s. Like imitation cashmere, their current compact, the Caliber, needed to be replaced. It was dated, cheap to touch or even look at, and stunk of last year’s knock off sedan. Dodge, now on its third bailout, is technically owned by FIAT. FIAT, much like a good Drag Mother, gave Dodge full access to their part bins and encouraged them to source their materials and parts. This new boost has given Dodge the edge it needed to provide a more premium feel and the competitive edge when dealing with class leaders like the Jetta and the Civic.
Starting from the ground up, we find a modified chassis borrowed from an Alfa Romeo. This chassis was then tuned for the more subdued American feel while retaining its tight and direct handling; a defining European characteristic that Alfa Romeo is famous for. Next dipping into the FIAT MO. CO. toy bin Dodge dug out three engine choices and multiple transmission combinations.
The engines range from the 2.0l Tigershark 160hp naturally aspirated base engine to the performance 2.4l Tigershark Turbo @ 184hp. 0-60 times range from 9.1 seconds in the base engine all the way to the mid 7 second range in the 2.4l Tigershark turbo. My favorite choice here is the 1.4l Tigershark turbo sourced from the FIAT 500 ABARTH. It makes 0-60 in the Dart come in just at 8.2 seconds without compromising fuel economy. This engine compares to the performance of a VW Jetta with the 2013 Focus sitting just a tenth of a second faster. A nice option not usually offered on any car is the ability to pair any engine with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, or dual dry clutch (DDCT) with a manual mode.
Weighing in at 3266lbs, the Dart comes out as one of the heaviest vehicles in its class. Fortunately the weight is not the only thing that sets this car out in its segment; the Dart is the only car to offer a heated steering wheel in the small car segment. Dodge’s small car has an interior that is packed with high quality materials that can go toe-to-toe with its German and Japanese rivals. The most technologically advanced car in its class bosts a 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) reconfigurable cluster display. If you want to be green, without really being green, you can opt to display a red and orange flower on the TFT display screen that lets you judge how frugal and efficient your driving habits are. Plus, if the 7inch TFT isn’t enough you also have a large 8.4 touch screen in the center of the dash that controls the radio, navigation, climate control, heated seats, etc.
Long and short of it: Dodge’s Dart offers a lot of bang for your buck. From supportive seats, hidden storage, and a pleathera of electronic gadgetry the Dart has all the creature comforts of a high-end sedan while still coming in under 30k. If you’re in the market for a new compact or even looking to downsize without skimping on a premium feel, then the Dart should definitely top your list of must-haves. Inside and out the all-new Dart marks the brand’s re-entry into the compact sedan segment, hitting the bulls-eye with a modern, unmistakable Dodge design that builds upon performance and quality.