Building on the changes from last year, the 2015 Dodge Dart receives further updates to its powertrains and features.
Customers are still blessed for choice with six trim levels to choose from. The 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir2 engine that powers the Dart SXT, Limited and GT models is now available as Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV).
In order to make this happen, the Dart gets a new fuel filler neck, new air cleaner, new engine downpipe, revised fuel tank, modified vapor purge canister and new fuel cap. This engine is available in the 14 California Air Resources Board (CARB) states.
Base model Dart SE’s also receive additional kit. They now come standard with air conditioning, Bluetooth, cruise control and power equipment making it an even better value for your money.
The last major update to the 2015 Dart involves its infotainment system. Uconnect Touch 8.4-inch touchscreen radio has been upgraded to include Android smartphone capability for Bluetooth, voice command and streaming music and USB connectivity to play music from the device.
What made the Dart so attractive initially hasn’t changed though. It’s based on an Alfa Romeo platform, but looks vastly different than its Giulietta cousin. The Dart retains the Dodge “crosshair” grill, making it recognisable as an “all-American.”
The Dart’s exterior dimensions are larger than the Giulietta in every way, which also translates to a roomier interior as well. More soft-touch materials are used in the cabin than in previous Dodge compacts. While a few hard surfaces remain, thankfully they are not in places the hand touches often.
With a wide front end and its cabin pushed rearward, the Dart certainly looks athletic. The grill is narrower than on other Dodge models and the lower air intake is more prominent. Behind it, optional active shutters may be seen, helping to aid aerodynamics.
In a welcomed deviation from the norm, Dodge decided to use piano-black accents instead of the traditional chrome mouldings.
The optional Charger inspired, LED “racetrack” taillights dominate the rear of equipped models.
With Dodge focusing on customization, there are three powerplants to choose from. Most models come with either the 2.0-litre Tigershark I-4 or the 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo.
It’s debatable which powerplant is more fun to drive as they both produce 160 horsepower. The 1.4 does create more torque, 184 ft-lbs verses 148, but the turbo lag certainly delays the time it all kicks in.
The turbo is certainly more fuel efficient however. It uses only 4.9 litres per 100kms of highway driving versus the 5.4 needed by the Tigershark.
The 2.4-litre Tigershark with MultiAir is the sporty choice. It makes 184-hp and 171 ft-lbs of torque.
A six-speed manual is standard on all models except the Limited. An optional six-speed auto is available, with the transmission mated to the 1.4-litre Turbo a dual dry clutch unit.
The manual transmission has a natural-feeling gate and a solid clutch. However, the ratio setup means you are constantly having to change gears at lower speeds. The automatics obviously sort that whole process out for you.
Since the Dart is based on an Italian car, some may be expecting spirited handling; and they’re not wrong. The engineers at Dodge have softened the ride a little to match the tastes of North American drivers but managed to keep confident road-holding ability.
The Dart is the first Chrysler with electric power steering. A good first effort as it is quick and well weighted with a tight feel.
The Dart was made to fit under a certain price point, but Dodge made the most of their resources. Interior finishes are respectable in this segment.
Front seats are quite comfortable for a compact sedan and provide good lateral support. The A-pillars are relatively thin and the dash is set low, giving you a great view out of the cabin and limits blind spots.
In the back, there’s a surprising amount of room. It boasts plenty of legroom and enough headroom for someone over six-feet tall. However, only expect to comfortably carry 2 passengers in the rear seats.
Wind noise is limited making the cabin fairly quiet and relaxing, but some road and tire noise does creep in.
The standout feature inside the Dart is the 8.4-inch touchscreen running Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system. The Uconnect system is very user friendly and centralizes all of the interior controls, tidying the cabin of a lot of needless buttons.
Safety is another of the Dart’s strong suits as it comes standard with 10 airbags, including side curtains.
The new Dodge Dart is a youthful compact sedan that deserves a fair look in this extremely competitive segment. It represents nice value with an excellent infotainment system, good handling and contemporary looks. Tell us in the comments if you agree or not.