In the muddled order of the Chrysler Group’s brands, Dodge’s stated future mission is to be a performance brand. This ambition has led to a few different conundrums. What about the Journey, Grand Caravan or just released Dart?
These are all as mainstream as they come, and in reality that is right where Dodge should be placed. Mainstream, with a bit of bolder performance twist. Despite the lofty talk, that is exactly where Dodge is right now.
Alfa Romeo can focus on European performance and handling. Where Dodge has shone though is with SRT models. If the dreadful Neon had one redeeming model, it was no doubt the SRT-4. Same thing for the Caliber. The Dart looks to be a far more competitive model than either of those. That gives the performance trim level a much better basis to start off from. According to Motor Trend, Dodge and the team at Street Racing Technology has a Dart SRT-4 waiting in the wings.
The high watermark of small car performance at Dodge was the Caliber SRT-4 with 285 horsepower. MT says the Dart SRT-4 will seek to surpass that. That will make for screaming performance – and if left as is with front wheel drive, probably some incredible torque steer too! With that much power we think the car would be better suited to having an all-wheel drive system.
AWD in general is much better suited to performance applications. With AWD, the Dart SRT-4 would be a head-on competitor to the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. As for the Focus ST, it would be in the rearview mirror. That is if the Dart SRT-4 really gets close to the 300 hp though – we could see it coming in at less than that. For instance, 250 hp would still make for sprightly performance.
To get to that figure, Dodge would have to either use the new Alfa Romeo 1.8-liter coming up or turbocharge the existing Tigershark engine. Adding turbocharging to the Tigershark is the most likely option, as the Alfa Romeo engine is considerably more expensive.
Expect the Dart SRT-4 to land as a 2014 model. Hopefully by then more of the competition will want to get in on the performance action too.