The new Dodge Dart, saying hello to the world at this week’s Detroit show, is based on an all-new Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based compact saloon produced for the North American market. This new Dodge is a milestone in more ways than one. To begin with, it marks the exit of the Dodge Caliber hatchback. It also marks the comeback of the classic US brand of the 1960s. Moreover, it categorically asserts the deepening ties between the Chrysler Group and their partner Fiat.
Unlike the entry level Dodge it was in the sixties, known for its quirky push-button transmission, the new Dart is not supposed to be a retro car but “a thoroughly modern vehicle”. The Dart braces itself to take on segment leaders like Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, and emerging competition like the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra.
The Dart will be the first in the Chrysler line-up to be revitalized by partner Fiat’s technological essence, through the Alfa Romeo connection. The Giulietta base is expected to shape many new products in both the United States and Europe.
The Chrysler focus on riotous design gives the Dart a more aerodynamic and appealing shape than that of the backing out Dodge Caliber hatchback. The Dodge ‘crosshair’ grille and ‘race track’ tail-lamps as well as the dual exhaust system underlines its semblance to the larger Charger saloon.
The power train is essentially driven by Fiat, with the Dart offering a turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir engine and a 2.4-litre ‘Tigershark’ Chrysler unit fitted with MultiAir technology, besides a new Tigershark 2.0-litre, 16-valve four. A far cry from the push-button quirks, the new-gen Dart also gets a new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
The European heritage is expected to mark the ride-comfort, with independent suspension all round — unusual in the segment. Dominated by an 8.4-inch touchscreen, the console and dash goes hi-tech and has an orange framing that adds a dash of fun to its classic Dodge styling.