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The Dodge Dart SRT Could Conquer the American Sport Compact Segment

The Chrysler 5 year plan revealed that a new Dodge Dart SRT will arrive late in 2016 with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and all wheel drive, which very well could allow the high performance Dart to dominate the American sport compact segment – but what does it need to become a legend like the Dodge Neon SRT?

The Chrysler Group has announced that there will be a Dodge Dart SRT in late 2016 and that it will feature a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a new all wheel drive system…but they didn’t go into any further detail as to how well this car will perform. Fortunately, by looking at the previous compact SRT product – the Dodge Caliber SRT4 – and by looking at the top dogs in the American sport compact segment we can make a few estimates as to what we can expect from the 2017 Dodge Dart SRT.

Although the sport compact market in the US isnt quite what it was when the Dodge Neon SRT4 stormed onto the scene in the early 2000s, many of the same major players rule the segment today. The monsters of the segment are the Subaru WRX STI and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X; both of which feature a powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and an advanced all wheel drive system. Following those models we have the Ford Focus ST (which didn’t exist to compete with the Dodge Neon SRT4 or the Dodge Caliber SRT4) which offers slightly less power and no all wheel drive.

Finally, we have models like the Honda Civic Si and the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, but those models will likely be so far underpowered compared to the Dart SRT that they won’t be included in the conversation unless they get huge power upgrades before 2016.

Realistically, for the Dodge Dart SRT to be the brawler that the Dodge Neon SRT4 was years ago, it will need to compete with the Subaru WRX STI, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and the Ford Focus ST. Considering that the Dodge Caliber SRT4 that is the evolutionary predecessor to the upcoming Dart SRT and the SRT Caliber offered 285 horsepower and 265lb0-ft of torque, I would expect that the high performance Dart will have at least that much power. Keep in mind that it was found that the Caliber SRT4 almost made as much power at the wheels as the company advertised so in all reality, the Caliber SRT4’s turbo 2.4L mill made more than 300 horsepower at the crankshaft.

Based on those numbers, the Caliber SRT4 should have been able to compete with the STI and the Evo, but the fact that the SRT Caliber was only offered with front wheel drive forced it to fall short of the Japanese competitors in terms of straight-line and cornering performance.

The Caliber SRT4 was powered by a 2.4L turbocharged “world engine” and the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine currently at use in the Dodge Dart GT is a successor of that same engine family. In short, there is no reason that the company cannot use the current 2.4L engine, a similar turbocharging setup and modern engine technology to produce every bit as much power in 2016 as the Caliber SRT4 did back in 2008. The fact that the 2017 Dodge Dart SRT will have a vastly more advanced chassis and suspension system combined with an advanced all wheel drive system should allow this compact sedan to at least compete closely with the STI and the Evo – regardless of the engine packed under the hood.

Also, there seems to be no question that the Dart SRT will outperform the Focus ST on every level unless the company unbelievably opts to give the new performance sedan far less power than the old Caliber SRT4.

Best of all, the Dodge Dart SRT just might undercut the price of the competitors by a massive amount. If you build and price the current Dodge Dart to be as expensive as possible, configuring the Dart Limited with every single option available online, the MSRP is $25,824. The 2015 Subaru WRX STI starts at $35,290 while the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X starts at $35,805 so both of the top dogs in the current sport compact segment start around $10,000 more than the current most expensive, fully loaded Dart. If the Dart SRT is like the Neon SRT4 that was unquestionably the most successful Chrysler Group sport compact ever, the Dart SRT will do without items that add weight and cost, but do not improve performance.

This means that the SRT package will likely not be built around a fully loaded car so when the turbocharged engine, sport tuned suspension, high performance braking package and advanced all wheel drive system are added – it is hard to imagine that the Dart SRT will cost more than the STI or the Evo.

In short, I would expect that the 2017 Dodge Dart SRT will have 300 horsepower, 300lb-ft of torque, a manual transmission, an advanced all wheel drive system, sport tuned suspension, a performance braking package, unique exterior components that improved aerodynamics, a purpose built cockpit with plenty of optional goodies – and it will have this all for under $30,000. You heard it here first…the Dodge Dart SRT will have a starting price under $30,000 with options that could drive the price up near that of the Subaru WRX STI, but the bottom line is that those American buyers who want an American car that will take down the best in the sport compact segment for under $30k.


Joel (not verified)    May 16, 2014 - 2:16AM

I completely agree one of the biggest things they will need to do is keep the nsrt heritage and keep the price low the nsrt was like 19k I will expect the dart to be a bit more expensive of course I couldn't see it costing around or more than a fully loaded dart costs now pricing is key and if they want to install faith in the dsrt they'll have to keep the price otherwise buyers in the market for a car of this class will simply stick with the competitors

Fettah Kosar (not verified)    June 5, 2014 - 12:20AM

This article presents us a very believable prediction about the long-awaited 2017 Dodge Dart SRT. I had been a big fan of Dodge Neon SRT4, only to be saddened by its short lifespan and disappointing replacements. Last month when I read the great news that the Dodge Dart SRT will be a reality in a couple of years, I was overjoyed. At an age close to 50, one may think that I am not the typical demographic for sport compacts, but you would be surprised how many older guys there are salivating over these little overachievers. I have been a loyal Dodge/Chrysler customer since 1992. I owned a 1992 Eagle Talon TSI AWD between 1992-98, and then I purchased a brand-new 2000 Dodge Neon ES in 1999, which I still own. When the Neon SRT4 came out in 2003, I almost traded in my Neon ES for it, but my financial situation at that time as a graduate student did not allow me the satisfaction. Instead, I ended up modifying and turbocharging my Neon ES. When the Neon model was retired and Caliber, and later Avenger, took its place, I was extremely disappointed. In my opinion, Neon SRT4 was the pinnacle of small, fast, agile, affordable AND good-looking sport compacts, and these newcomers just were not exciting like Neon. After all these years, I still enjoy and cherish my 2000 Neon ES very much. I have been long awaiting Neon SRT4's worthy replacement. I got very excited when the new Dodge Dart was announced a couple years ago, followed by a disappointment when an SRT version did not materialize. I have been roaming the online forums ever since, sifting through the rumors and speculations of an upcoming Dart SRT. I have been wishing (and dreaming) for an announcement of a 4-cylinder, turbocharged, minimum 300HP, $30,000, all wheel drive Dart SRT that can compete with Subaru WRX STI, and Mitsubishi EVO. I guess my dreams are finally coming true. Now I am glad to have resisted the urge to buy a Subaru WRX last year and to have decided to wait a bit longer. I am going to wait 2-3 more years, so I really hope that Dodge and SRT will deliver and not disappoint me and all the other SRT4 enthusiasts... AGAIN. I just want to tell them, in case they read these blogs: "PLEASE MAKE IT WORTH THE LONG WAIT!"

Brian L (not verified)    August 3, 2014 - 3:29AM

I like that Dodge makes high performance sport compacts that compete with the "top dawgs" at a much lower price at that. It keeps these auto makers in check with their insane sticker prices. With that being said, I cannot see the Dart srt4 out performing any of said cars and this article mentions that it will out perform the Focus st, but does not mention anything about the Focus RS which is predicted to make 330hp with a AWD tranny. Ford has been killing it with their ST line up and I would be very surprised if the Dart puts down similar numbers. Also Honda is also rumored to join the Turbo bandwagon and if that's true its going to definitely be a contender. Point being, don't get too cocky because it's a very competitive market.

joel (not verified)    August 4, 2014 - 1:48PM

In reply to by Brian L (not verified)

I have faith. Just take a look at what they've done with the challenger. 707 crank hp certified 11.2 quarter mile fresh out of the box well into the 10's with drag radials or slicks CERTIFIED and all. For 60k that's more horse power than a Lamborghini aventador that's keeping up with times of the gtr that's almost double the price that's keeping up with bugatti times put it into perspective a McLaren is in the 9 territory but its a million dollar car you get this for 60k and if you drive it rite you can still cruise at 20 mpg..... So imagine the rout their going to go with the dsrt4

T.K. Dickson (not verified)    October 31, 2014 - 12:55PM

Can't wait for this! I owned a 2005 NSRT4 for about a year. After I got my 2003 Lancer Evolution VII I decided to sell it. both cars are amazing. The only reason why I got rid of the SRT4 was because it was FWD and the Evo felt far more superior. It was easy to wake up every day and decide on which car I wanted to drive. I NEVER want to have that feeling again. I'll buy a DSRT4 and keep the evo and rally forever and ever. <3 xD

Fettah Kosar (not verified)    October 31, 2014 - 2:24PM

In reply to by T.K. Dickson (not verified)

I completely agree with you. By making the new Dart SRT an AWD, Dodge is going to create a very attractive small sports sedan, which will be competing in the leagues of the EVO and STI. I can't wait either!

moparful99 (not verified)    January 31, 2015 - 7:08AM

I've been dreaming about a Dodge branded car to carry the banner that the Neon SRT4 established a decade ago. Unfortunately the Caliber and Avenger have been dissapointing for us SRT enthusiasts. Then Dodge dropped the Dart on us and I felt like we finally had a car capable of living up to the legacy of the Neon srt4. If Dodge does this right it could be a monster. I believe based on Dodge's legacy that the power in the Dart SRT will surprise us. I think we'll see at least 350bhp and a less advanced super all wheel drive than those found in the WRX and EVO. Those systems are ridiculously expensive and Dodge will choose a functional option that will keep the cost under 30k.

Aedroes (not verified)    February 7, 2015 - 1:25PM

I work as a salesman for Dodge and I love selling darts. I own a 14 dart gt and plan on getting the srt right when it comes out. I can tell you from what I've heard the dart set is going to have over 340 horses. I heard this from many people inside Dodge that work on the dart and the company that's making the turbos for the srt all ready has engines from srt they are working on now. They told me the same thing that it will be 340 plus and it's the 2.0l tigershark they are using. With the hell at out and those making most likely more than 707, I can really believe that it will be more than 340.

dartdame (not verified)    April 2, 2015 - 9:22AM

I purchased the Dart Limited as soon as they appeared. Absolutely loving the idea of an SRT. I was at the dealer yesterday checking into the 2016 and 2017 models and seems I was more informed than them. Unless they just don't want to say much at the moment. I recently have seen some articles about a 6 cylinder possibility for 2016. If they can produce that in the 2016 Limited I won't wait for the SRT. Either way the next one will be ordered with every option possible!

james (not verified)    August 12, 2015 - 8:09PM

Bring on the Dart SRT, my biggest concern for the dart SRT will be weight. Power is really no concern unless the thing is a pig. I just hope it comes with Brembo brakes, viper seats 2.0 , and a turbo bigger than a td04 ;)

eric (not verified)    September 14, 2015 - 10:22PM

I'm glad that dodge is making this dart srt turbo with all wheel drive and giving it so much power. This will give the car that much better traction in the rain and snow. I'm going to buy one my self when they come out. I only wish they gave the dodge charger a manual transmission.

Rick (not verified)    January 15, 2023 - 4:25AM

In reply to by eric (not verified)

I have a 2016 dart sxt.. spoiler alert, there were no srt4 made thanks for getting my hopes up and stomping on my dream.. if you happen to own the sxt like me you can debadge the "sxt" and debadge the first two letters from the "DART" badge..then take the letter "s" from that "sxt" and put it in the location where the letters "DA" once were . You can have your own "sRT" like me..