The Dodge Dart has made a comeback at the Detroit motor show, in the shape of an all-new Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based compact saloon produced for the North American market.
The Dart was a classic of the American car market in the 1960s, when it served as an entry-level model to the Dodge brand, and was well known for the unusual push-button transmission Dodge offered. However, Dodge officials claim the new Dart is not a retro car, claiming it to be “a thoroughly modern vehicle”.
It will line up alongside such compact segment stalwarts as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, as well as newer rivals including the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra.
The Dart is the first product in the Chrysler line-up to get an injection of partner Fiat’s DNA, courtesy of its Alfa Romeo brand. It is based on a platform adapted from the Giulietta, underscoring the increasing ties between Chrysler and Fiat. Dubbed the Compact US Wide, or CUSW, architecture, it will appear under the skin of a variety of new products in both the United States and Europe.
In keeping with Chrysler tradition, a significant emphasis has been put on the design of the newly revived Dart, which adopts a more aerodynamic and appealing shape than that of the old Dodge Caliber hatchback it replaces.
Familiar features include the Dodge ‘crosshair’ grille and ‘race track’ tail-lamps, as well as a dual exhaust system borrowed from the bigger Charger saloon.
On the powertrain side, the Fiat influence is obvious, with the Dart offering a turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir engine and a 2.4-litre ‘Tigershark’ Chrysler unit fitted with MultiAir technology. There is also a new Tigershark 2.0-litre, 16-valve four. The Dart also gets a new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
The Dart features independent suspension all round — unusual in the segment — to enhance what Dodge claims to be a more European-style ride. A hi-tech interior is another feature, with the centre console dominated by an 8.4-inch touchscreen.