Polishing a turd: Dodge introduces the Mopar ’13 Dart

The current Dodge Dart was a step in the right direction, with Chrysler moving away from Dr. Zetsche’s obsession with wagons during Mercedes’ reign over the beleaguered automaker. However, the end result hasn’t set the world or the sales charts on fire, as models are currently languishing behind the stalwarts of its class, such as the Civic, Focus, and Cruze. In fact, the only car that it outsold last month was the outgoing Kia Forte, a vehicle that was actually a step down from its predecessor, the Kia Spectra (I had a ’06 Spectra EX that was worlds better than the Forte). Even the ancient Toyota Corolla sold nearly three times as much as the Dart did.

What was Chrysler to do? Launch a top-end version of the Neon II, of course! This appears to be more than putting lipstick on a pig though. It starts out with the 1.4L Multi-Air turbo’d engine, mated with a six-speed transmission. Other performance bits include:

  • Performance steering-gear calibration
  • 225/40R 18 tyres
  • Premium brake kit with slotted rotors
  • Performance-tuned exhaust

Dodge also included some appearance bits that strikes a balance between tasteful and riced out. Besides the prerequisite ground effects kit and silver-coloured spoiler, the Dart also features blacked-out 18 inch wheels, as well as a Mopar Blue offset racing stripe. Speaking of the Mopar Blue, that particular colour is extended into the interior. In addition to the floating island bezel, paint, and lighting, the driver’s seat is adorned in the same hue, while the rest of the interior is awash in black seats. A risky move for the Pentastar, but it might be crazy enough to actually work.

Mopar Blue also extends to the accent stitching, touches around the instrument bezel and dashboard, and accents on the other seats. Other interior bits include a bright-pedal kit, door sill guards, upgraded floor mats, and an 8.4 inch navigation screen. Also featured on the tech front is an industry-first wireless charging system for smartphones. This is a welcomed feature that I personally hope will take off in other vehicles.

Each of the 500 Mopar ’13 Darts will be delivered with a personalised owner’s kit that’ll be encased in a custom-made black case. In it features a personalized plate with the vehicle’s specs, the date that it was built, a Mopar ’13 brochure, as well as the unique ID number of the vehicle, all of which is highlighted by a limited-edition sketch of the vehicle signed by Mark Trostle, Chrysler Group Chief Designer for the Mopar Brand.

“Our new Mopar ’13 Dart will turn heads and stand out from the crowd,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “For this special, limited-edition vehicle, we specifically kept the driver in mind as we added select Mopar parts and accessories.”

Look for production to start this spring…will this inject some excitement into the struggling C-segment sedan? Or will enthusiasts hold out until the long-rumoured SRT-4 version finally arrives in dealerships nationwide? Who knows…but stay tuned.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

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