Thursday, August 21, 2008

2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Review

Auto123.Com - In many ways, the 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 is reminiscent of the 1985 Dodge Omni GLH. Those letters, by the way, had a very explicit meaning: Goes Like Hell. It was all about power or, to be more accurate, brute power. In order to achieve the same level of refinement than the GTI, Civic Si and MAZDASPEED3, the company's modern hot hatch needs some polishing.

The 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4 is reminiscent of the 1985 Dodge Omni GLH.

The design is a clear success. Angular lines, wide fender flares, an arched roofline and a high beltline give this Caliber a strong presence on the road. The small rear spoiler at the top of the hatch adds to the car's sportiness.

The SRT4 model stands out from other Calibers thanks to a one-tone grille devoid of chrome accents. The hood incorporates a functional hood scoop flanked by functional air outlets. Stylish 19-inch SRT aluminum wheels complete the package. (Chrome wheels are optionally available.)

The result appeals to the young and young at heart, including nostalgic baby-boomers. These drivers are more interested in having a killer-looking machine than enjoying great peripheral vision. The latter is definitely not a strength of the Caliber SRT4 -- and most of its rivals, for that matter. Rearward visibility is also limited due to the sloping roofline, small rear window and wide C-pillars. Parking maneuvers, as you can imagine, are made that much harder as a result.

Ponies to spare!
Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division did not focus exclusively on styling. They injected some serious muscle by heavily tuning the automaker's "World Engine" (a 2.4L 4-cylinder developed in collaboration with Mitsubishi and Hyundai). The addition of an intercooled turbocharger has bumped horsepower by 113 (285) and torque by an even 100 (265).

The thundering cavalry drives the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. This Getrag unit replaces the 5-speed Magna T355 of other Calibers. I found it to lack flexibility and have a profound disdain for quick shifts. Plus, the clutch is fairly stiff.

This turbocharged variant of Chrysler's 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder "World Engine" produces an impressive 285 horsepower.

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