2013 Dodge Dart Rallye
2013 Dodge Dart Rallye. Click image to enlarge

Related articles
Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
First Drive: 2013 Dodge Dart
Comparison Test: Compact Cars
Comparison Test: Compact Cars, Version 2.0
Test Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 Trendline

Manufacturer’s Website
Dodge Canada

Review by Chris Chase, photos by Chris Chase and James Bergeron

Photo Gallery:
2013 Dodge Dart Rallye

Dart is an old name in American car culture, dating back to 1960, but the 2013 Dodge sedan that revives the name – after a nearly 40-year hiatus – follows a trend among domestic carmakers of cloaking foreign technology behind familiar badges.

With the Dart’s arrival, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford all sell compact cars in Canada that are based on vehicles originating in Europe; this Dodge is part Italian, owing to its maker’s alliance with Fiat.

Whether the Dart looks/feels/drives like a European car is academic, given that most compact car buyers (or, really, most buyers of any vehicle in any class) could care less where a car comes from, as long as it does the job for an appealing price.

The price, in this case, is $15,995 to start, or $19,495 for the mid-level Rallye trim on my tester. The car I drove also included an optional 1.4L turbocharged engine that uses Fiat’s MultiAir valve timing technology. Options in my test car added $3,475 to the price, for an as-tested figure of $22,970, not including freight and taxes.

For that coin, this car came with navigation, but lacked things like automatic climate control and heated seats. Also, this car’s interior space is only acceptable compared to subcompacts, which is a problem given that the Dart is marketed and priced to fit the compact class.

The MultiAir motor feels stronger than its 160 hp suggests; you can thank its 184 lb-ft of torque for that. The throttle’s gentle tip-in takes some getting used to; you have to delve deeper than you expect to get the acceleration you’re after. Once the turbo’s spinning, the engine is eager and pulls hard, even toward the top of its speed range, something some turbocharged engines aren’t good at.

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye2013 Dodge Dart Rallye
2013 Dodge Dart Rallye. Click image to enlarge

This motor is an upgrade from the 2.0L engine in SXT, Rallye, and Limited models; the SE can only be had with the 2.0L, and the top-trim R/T uses a 2.4L mill. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in SE through Limited cars; an automatic is optional in SXT, Rallye, and Limited, and the R/T is automatic-only.

The manual’s shifter and clutch are easy to use; the shift lever’s long throws are the only off-putting a bit, if only because the move into second, fourth and sixth can force your right elbow into the front of the centre console lid if you’re not careful.

A too-hard ride is the fallback for any car whose maker wants it to feel “sporty.” The Dart’s suspension is on the firm side, but it avoids the harshness that characterizes some of its competitors. (I’m looking at you, Mazda3.)

Connect with Autos.ca