The Dodge Dart is the first model to use a new global platform that will underpin a range of future Fiat cars – including the replacement for the Bravo, which is due to go on sale here next year.
Fiat and Chrysler, Dodge’s owner, have developed the chassis using components from the Alfa Giulietta, but the wheelbase has been stretched by 68mm and the car is 30mm wider. The result is a cabin that’s far more spacious than in the Italian hatch and provides plenty of room for rear passengers.
Despite the extra length, Dodge claims the car is just as stiff as the Giulietta – and the driving dynamics are certainly sharp. The steering is well weighted and the MacPherson strut front suspension ensures there is plenty of grip.
Engines come from Fiat, and include the 1.4-litre petrol turbo used in the Abarth Punto Evo, which produces 160bhp. It delivers punchy acceleration if you work it hard and should take the Dart from 0-62mph in around eight seconds.
Fiat’s know-how also shows inside, with a level of fit and finish that Dodge would never have been capable of before. The US-only Dart won’t make it to the UK, but it shows plenty of promise for Fiat’s upcoming Golf-rivalling hatchback and estate models, due next year.