By Patrick Rall
Chrysler execs have long teased and hinted at the future existence
of an SRT variant of the sporty new Dodge Dart sedan but while speaking
recently with Automobile Magazine, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne
confirmed that the Dart SRT is on the way.
As he put it, the main question right now is “how big an engine we
stick in it.”
Since the day that the 2013 Dodge Dart met the world in
January at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, the Mopar world has been demanding a
high performance version from the Street and Racing Technology brand. There have been quite a few spyshots of what
appeared to be a modified Dart presumed to be the SRT variant but Sergio’s
comments are the first positive confirmation that it is definitely on the way.
Right now, there are four engines that power the 2013 Dodge
Dart in various forms – that’s right – 4.
The 2.0L Tigershark naturally aspirated engine is the standard mill in
all trimlines with the exception of the upcoming Dart R/T and Dart Aero. That engine makes 160hp and 148lb-ft of
torque but those buyers of the SE, SXT, Rallye or Limited Dart models can opt
for the 1.4L Turbocharged MultiAir engine that makes 160hp and 184lb-ft of torque. The 2013 Dart R/T is powered by the 2.4L
Tigershark engine that makes 184hp and 171lb-ft of torque but with that same
engine, the Dart GTS 210 Tribute makes 210hp with only a cold air intake,
exhaust system and a tune.
The fourth engine – and the one most alike the engine that
could power the Dodge Dart SRT4, is the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
that powers the Dodge Dart Rally Car driven by Travis Pastrana. While we surely cannot expect the Dart SRT4
to pack the same 600 horsepower and 550lb-ft of torque that Pastrana uses to
run in the Global RallyCross world, that engine could offer us a look at what
engine SRT might use to make the 300 or so horsepower needed to make the Dart
SRT4 as much of a hit as the Neon SRT4 was years ago.
We can expect that whatever engine the Street and Racing
Technology division picks for the Dart SRT4 will be mated to a manual
transmission but there could also be an efficient dual-clutch unit that allows
for quick shifts sans the drivetrain loss of most automatics. In a perfect world, the Dart SRT4 would have
four cylinders and four wheel drive but realistically, the Dart SRT4 will most
likely be front wheel drive.
In addition to the high performance engine and transmission,
we can also expect the new Dodge Dart SRT4 to feature unique body dressings, an
improved braking system and a tuned suspension system…all of which may be
modeled on the Dart GTS 210 Tribute shown above.