2004 Dodge SRT4
2004 Dodge SRT4; photo courtesy Chrysler Canada. Click image to enlarge

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Dodge Canada

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By Jeff Burry

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Take Chrysler’s 2.4-litre, SOHC 16-valve engine (the same as the one used to power the PT Cruiser) and combine it with a Mitsubishi TD04-L-16GK turbocharger to boost the motor’s output from 150 to 215 screaming horses (in 2003; later models were rated at 230). Now package this potent combination in a compact Dodge Neon shell and you’ve created a monster dubbed SRT4 – with four (4) referring to the number of cylinders.

Sold from 2003 to 2005, the SRT4 could definitely keep up with most tuner cars on the road, while offering an exhaust note similar to that of a late sixties muscle car.

2004 Dodge SRT4
2004 Dodge SRT4; photo by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge

Road tests at the time demonstrated that the SRT4 could accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in the 5.6-second range and boast a top speed of nearly 245 km/h. Not too shabby for a four-door four-banger! It was every inch a tuner car and straight from the factory floor! (Tuner magazines that tested the SRT4 suspected that the SRT4’s power ratings were conservative.)

What really gets this Neon out of the gate is the extra amount of torque that the turbocharger produces – a whopping 245 pound-feet (250 lb-ft in later cars) of torque – for a vehicle that weighs less than 1,400 kg soaking wet.

At the time its performance numbers ranked a close second to the Dodge Viper SRT-10. From a standing start, the SRT4 could achieve 100 km/h more quickly than more notable sports cars such as the Porsche Boxster and Nissan 350Z.

In Canada, the SRT4 retailed for approximately $27,000. There wasn’t another vehicle on the market at the time with such impressive performance numbers for under $30,000 that could also seat a family of five.

2005 Dodge SRT4
2005 Dodge SRT4; photo courtesy Chrysler Canada. Click image to enlarge

Not only could you haul your family around in this vehicle, you could also do so economically and with plenty of cargo capacity to boot. The SRT4 fuel consumption figures were pegged at a very respectable 10.8 L/100 km (city) and 7.2 L/100 km (hwy) – premium fuel, please.

The engine’s impressive output was, in part, achieved through the installation of a larger throttle body pared to a high flow intake manifold. The Sachs high-capacity clutch and New Venture T850 five-speed manual gearbox were also unique to the SRT4.

Knowing the turbocharger would generate a considerable amount of heat, Chrysler engineers from the SRT (Street and Racing Technology) division stuffed the largest intercooler they could find below the radiator.

Additional development assistance and expertise for the SRT4 was provided by performance operation engineers from the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), who had significant experience in building high-performance vehicles meant solely for the track.

2005 Dodge SRT4
2005 Dodge SRT4; photo courtesy Chrysler Canada. Click image to enlarge

The deep burble exhaust note is unique to the SRT4 and is attributed to the fact that this vehicle comes sans mufflers. That’s right, there are no mufflers attached to the exhaust system!

Aside from its distinctive exhaust note, the SRT4 has some unique styling features that distinguish it from a regular Neon. The front clip has been heavily modified and suggests an aftermarket “aero” package has been applied. A large functional scoop sits atop the uniquely-designed steel hood, capturing air and feeding it to the engine. Peering through the quad vents in the nose, one can easily notice the wide grey cast aluminum intercooler lurking in the shadows. Apparently the folks at DaimlerChrysler were going to paint the intercooler black at one point but later decided to leave it grey providing it with that preferred “tuner” character trait.

The aft view further suggests performance with a swooping spoiler perched ten inches off the deck lid. Rounding out the aft view are the purposeful dual chrome 2.5-inch exhaust tips protruding through the lower rear valance.

2005 Dodge SRT4
2005 Dodge SRT4; photo courtesy Chrysler Canada. Click image to enlarge

The 17-inch wheels resemble an aftermarket product and are wrapped in BF Goodrich P205/50ZR-17 skins. The SRT4 will easily leave a “footprint” on the black top when the throttle is punched and the turbocharger kicks in.

One of the most impressive things about this vehicle is that it can act civilized, and even be docile at times, safely and easily transporting you and your family to the movies, to soccer games and yes, even to the grocery store.

Turning it into a beast simply requires “punching” the accelerator: this docile four-door compact car becomes a howling banshee complete with the clear and present whistle sound created by the Mitsubishi turbocharger.

The dash layout is very similar to that of the Neon’s, but the SRT4 was outfitted with a unique gauge cluster with silver faces, black digits and polished bezels. To the right of the main gauge pod sits the silver turbo boost/vacuum gauge providing the driver with that all-important boost data, the type that brings a smile to ones face when you punch the throttle.

2004 Dodge SRT4
2004 Dodge SRT4; photo by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge

The steering wheel has a faux carbon-fibre look to it complete with leather wraps and is of a unique three spoke design. Shifting through the five gears is done via a neat cue-ball looking (and feeling) shift knob that is satin silver in colour.

As with the Neon, the SRT4’s front windows are powered, while the rear windows have to be “cranked.” I suspect more often than not the rear seats rarely carry passengers, so this is likely not to be an issue.

DaimlerChrysler initially set out to produce three thousand SRT4s per year, however nearly thirteen thousand vehicles were produced for both the 2004 and 2005 model years. Unfortunately, once the Neon platform was retired, so was the original SRT4, to be replaced in 2008 by the Caliber SRT-4.

For further information on the SRT4 there are any number of web sites that will provide you with accurate technical and performance data. A good place to start would be the SRT Forums.

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