For 2005, the Dodge SRT-4 “mini Viper” offers only two changes: a new Orange Blast exterior colour, and an optional Kicker/SRT Livin’ Loud audio system with six-disc CD changer.

Moving into its third year, SRT-4 offers the ultimate tuner car right out of the box. At its heart is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with a turbocharger that increases the horsepower to 230, with 250 ft-lbs of torque available in the 2200 to 4000 rpm range. It comes exclusively with a five-speed heavy-duty transmission and a torque-sensing, limited-slip differential.

Available in only one trim line, SRT-4 offers 17-inch aluminum wheels with speed-rated performance tires, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and red powder-coated calipers front and rear, air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, power trunk release, high-back bucket seats, CD player with six speakers, leather-wrapped wheel, and power windows.

Its included-in-the-price SRT Design package, consisting of “power bulge” front hood, unique front fascia, dual exhaust and high rear spoiler is also available as an option on both base SX 2.0 models for 2005. Imagine the fun you’ll have pulling up at a stoplight beside one of those decked-out 132 hp models and just smiling at its driver.

Available optional equipment includes a power sunroof and the new 178-watt stereo.

Dodge claims that SRT-4’s zero to 100 km/hr acceleration in an estimated 5.8 seconds is second only to Viper in the Dodge car line-up. It’s ridiculously fast and incredibly fun to drive, with Viper-style seats that hold you in place through even the tightest turns. It’s $2,385 more than the supercharged Chevrolet Cobalt SS, which makes that car a very inviting prospect, although the SRT-4 has 25 extra horses, and its sedan body style is less sporty but more practical. Saturn Ion Redline also falls 25 horses short, and is only $240 under SRT-4’s price. Subaru’s legendary 300 hp Impreza WRX STi remains the benchmark, of course, but for its $47,995 you could buy the SRT-4 and have enough left over for an SX 2.0 to drive to church on Sunday.

SRT-4 is built in Belvidere, Illinois.

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