Dodge, we need a Hot Hatch
Muscle cars, trucks, SUVs, Crossovers. But what about a Dodge hot hatch?
An Abarth 595-based Dodge hot hatch rendered by Kleber Silva
Dodge has long made incredible machines. From a V10-powered Ram truck to a supercharged Charger Hellcat — all indicate its insanity. Reading Yash Agarwal's post regarding an Abarth 595-based Dodge hot hatch (render by Kleber Silva), I got into thinking:
What if such a car materialised?
Dodge Caliber SRT-4
Well, Dodge, and the Fiat Chrysler Group cumulatively — has dipped their toes into the hot hatch world before. Fiat Abarth has the 500; Alfa Romeo, the 147 GTA; and even Dodge, the Omni GLH/GLHS and Caliber SRT-4.
Are you unfamiliar with Dodge's said attempts? It is because…
The Omni and Caliber were pathetic cars
Dodge Omni GLHS | Dodge's subpar hatch modified into a killer by Caroll Shelby | Has earned a cult recognition regardless
American cars aren’t the best-sellers globally. Except Buick in China and Ford in Europe, Detroit cars mainly target American buyers. But how did Ford succeed in Europe? The answer lies in their dedicated R&D set in Germany since 1967. The said department has produced numerous volume and performance cars. For example, the Focus and Focus ST/RS. This, in my assessment, is the chief factor behind Ford's success.
The Ford Focus and Fiesta are two of the world's finest hatches, loved by the masses and enthusiasts alike. In contrast, the Dodge Omni was a petty product of Chrysler's desperation to make an econobox during the '80s. The 1980s was also the era when Dodge blasphemously transformed the Charger marque into an economic coupé. Coincidentally, Shelby had an effective contract with Chrysler that led him to modify the Omni/Charger GLH/GLHS. Despite Shelby’s skills, they weren't complete performance machines. Instead, econoboxes with fairly powerful engines. The uncontrollable torque steer, nosedive, acceleration squat and overall pathetic handling only reinforce my assertion. Even the Caliber SRT-4 that came out in 2007 was essentially a powerful engine stuffed into a grocery-getter. Although that resulted in 285 bhp, 359 Nm, it stood nowhere as high as other hot hatches. Both the Focus RS MK1 (6.7 s) and Volkswagen Golf GTI MK4 (6.9 s) were slower yet far better cars overall. Most reviewers criticised the 6 s 0-100 km/h SRT-4 for its extreme torque steer and cheap, hopeless interiors.
What can Dodge learn from Ford?
David Tracy, Jalopnik
Ford Focus RS MK1 | A revolutionary replacement for the Escort RS
Focus and Fiesta RS/ST are undisputed top-tier hot hatches, and so have they been since their creation. Ford couldn’t achieve this solely through their mighty motors, they also required cutthroat engineering. All traits such as top speed, acceleration, handling, practicality and build quality attribute to a sports car’s reputation.
What can Dodge do now?
Dodge Charger 3.6 AWD
In the last fifteen years, Dodge experienced somewhat of a renaissance. They revived the Charger and Challenger marques while retaining the original muscle soul. Their new Pentastar V6 and Hemi V8-powered cars have been far superior to those they produced beforehand. Considering the Dodge that we appreciate today,
A plausible scenario would be:
Fiat Tipo MK2
Under the FCA umbrella, come Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Maserati, Jeep and Alfa Romeo. Only Fiat amongst the six produces hatchbacks. The 500 and Panda are contrary to Dodge’s agendum of big powerful cars. Thus, what’s left is the Tipo hatchback. Perhaps a 3.6 Pentastar V6-powered Tipo could rival the Mégane RS, A45 AMG etc. Granted almost all compact performance cars use turbo-I4 engines now, Dodge has a positive record in rigging cars with unforeseen engines. The said engine in Charger produces 300 bhp, 358 Nm. A potential supercharger/turbocharger (even a hybrid-system) could boost that up to the 400+ bhp territory held by the A45 AMG S. Talk about a super hatchback now! Some nostalgic names they could use are Neon SRT-6, Dart SRT-6 or even Caliber SRT-6. However, the best name in my opinion would be Omni SRT-6! Now a crucial facet of this imaginary car will be the handling characteristic. Dodge will need to implement agile handling, just as they did in the new Charger and Challenger. Lots of serious engineering, Pentastar’s brute and dedication would have to be put into it for something remarkable! The Italians at Alfa Romeo could assist Dodge in enhancing this super hatch. As far as the design goes, I believe Dodge qualifies at building menacing cars like the Dart Mopar. Last, FCA still isn’t the best interior designer. Almost all of their cars suffer from this issue. Therefore, extra effort will prove critical for this project’s success.