I’ve seen the Dodge Dart commercials on TV, read positive reviews of it, but never expected this car to be as good as it is.  The Dart reviewed here is a Rallye model with the 1.4 Turbo Multiair engine and dual clutch transmission.  From the first drive, you know what this car is about:  fun.

To begin with, the steering on the car is communicative and fantastic.  The ratio is very short:  a small steering input goes a long way.  The car has very confident road manners, and it is very apparent that the chassis rigidity on this car is excellent.  Suspension is sporty and well controlled: the car turns with authority and handles very well.

The 1.4 liter turbo engine has a fair bit of lag, but once in boost it is quite surprising how fast this little engine feels!    The fuel economy is very good, especially on the highway.  Passing power is remarkable for such a small engine, kudos to Dodge and Fiat for making such a responsive package.  At no point did the Dart feel under-powered, however being that I run Blog of Speed, I wouldn’t argue if the SRT version of the Dart had a few more.  The only recommendation I’ll make about the powertrain is to avoid the dual clutch at all costs- the manual is most certainly better.  The transmission programming people made a huge mistake here: they aimed to make the dual clutch act like an automatic, and in doing so ruined what could be a fantastic gearbox.  Instead of lightning fast smooth shifts, the clutches slip to feel more like an automatic.  The good news is the problem is purely software.  Dodge, if you’re reading this, please fix the software and give this car the dual clutch it deserves.  Until new software comes, buy the car in manual.

The interior quite nice for a car of this price point.  The fabric seats with racing stripes look great, and the interior build quality is very good.  Those seats have very good side bolstering and are quite comfortable on long voyages.  The passenger seat also has a very clever storage bin under the seat cushion (think Fast and Furious RX7 nitrous bottles).  The 8.4″ infotainment display looks great, however it can only use it’s text messaging features with Blackberry and certain Android bluetooth stacks.  The audio and notifications don’t work quite right with the iphone either  This is a pretty big miss because of the market share of the iphone , but is easily corrected by a software update.

The exterior of the car looks great.  The optional LED Race Track tail light option looks fantastic, and the smooth curves of the Dart are very pleasing.  The trunk space is great for a compact car, and rear seat room is plentiful as well.  The metallic blue paint looks fantastic and is of very good quality.

If you haven’t noticed, I really like this car.  It’s one of the best surprises I’ve had in my many years of being a gearhead.  This car should be on the top of your list if you’re looking for a fun four door.  This is the true successor to the Neon:  Peppy, frugal, and a blast to drive.  If this is any indication of Dodge’s new direction, I can’t wait to see what comes next.   Enjoy!