Nearly bankrupt just three short years ago, Chrysler has staged an unexpectedly strong resurgence, outpacing the overall US market’s turnaround month after month.
But there’s a big gap it needs to fill if it hopes to keep that momentum going, and the Dart proved to be a much-needed entry in US dealer showrooms.
The reborn Dodge Dart saloon brings back to life a once-popular brand name, but the new offering is anything but retro.
It is, in fact, the first Chrysler product to share its foundation with the American firm's Italian partner, Fiat – the Dart using a modified version of the Alfa Giulietta platform, here widened by two inches to make room for corn-fed American posteriors.
Compared with the model it replaces, this generation saloon’s handsome exterior styling is much more in tune with the market, with Dodge’s newly updated double-crosshair grille, a curvaceous, almost coupé-like roofline and the sort of broad hips and high rear shoulders that fit the muscular image the brand likes to portray.
The sumptuous interior – at least for its segment – is light years beyond the tacky, hard plastic cabins for which Chrysler has long been known and roundly criticised. If there’s a downside, it’s that the rear seats are a little too compact to accommodate three adults in comfort.