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The $35,000 Dart?

by Bill Cawthon on

Since Ford announced that the next-generation Focus RS would be offered in the U.S., there has been a great deal of furor about a Dodge Dart SRT.

In the Allpar article, “Dart SRT: turbo, AWD, 2017,” the word was there would be an SRT variant of the next-generation Dart that would most likely appear on dealer lots sometime in early 2017.


Given that timetable, there’s time for Tim Kuniskis’ team to put together a suitable response to the Focus. Considering the engine resources available, there’s very little question Dodge could produce a car that would quite happily blow the doors off a Focus RS.

If they haven’t already.

There are already cars on the market that offer most of what the Ford Focus RS will likely have. For example, Volkswagen’s new Golf R, which has AWD and 292 horsepower, lists at $36,595. Zero to 60 comes in 4.9 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 130 miles per hour.

The Subaru WRX STi, available now, has 305 horsepower, AWD, and some of the same features, like torque vectoring, as the Focus RS. It’s priced at $34,495, goes from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, and the drag-limited top speed is 159 miles per hour.

There aren’t any figures yet for the Focus RS, but the Mustang with a similar engine does 0-60 in 5.2 seconds and has a governor-limited top speed of 149. Since the Focus weighs considerably less than the 3,600-pound Mustang and Ford is projecting at least five more horsepower than the Mustang’s 310, chances are good that the Focus RS will be at least competitive with the VW and the Subaru.

These benchmarks have been around during the development of the next-generation Dart, and any planned SRT version would likely have been created with a “meet-or-beat” agenda.

One thing is almost written in stone: any Dart SRT will be the most expensive Dart ever offered.

Right now, the most expensive Dart is a well-optioned Limited that goes for $25,210 excluding destination charges, taxes, etc. A Dart SRT will most likely go for somewhere near $10,000 more.

As for sales, Great Britain provides an example. Out of 253,153 Focuses (Foci?) sold from 2009 to 2011 in the UK, dealers delivered just over 4,600 RS cars. That’s 1.8% of total UK Focus sales, but it was enough to make it worth repeating.

Official prices haven’t yet been released, but UK automotive writers estimate the price for the Focus RS in the range of £30,000, equivalent to roughly $45,700 in U.S. currency. Since costs in the US are lower, with among other things no national 20% value-added tax, US pricing should be lower. An equivalent Focus Titanium lists at about 72% of the British price. Using that  as a guideline, we get a ballpark U.S. price of about $32,800 for a Focus RS.

It could easily be higher, considering the prices of a couple of competing vehicles, and the extra costs of engineering it to meet standards in the US rather than the EU.  Thus, a red-hot Dart SRT could be priced in the mid-$30,000 range and still be in the ballpark.

That’s a lot for a compact car, but it’s a bargain for a SRT.

IF FCA launches the SRT at the same time it rolls out the rest of the next-generation Darts, it could also provide a boost the car didn’t get the first time around. As a “halo” car, it could draw showroom and online shoppers that might not have considered a Dart otherwise. Looking at the 72% increase in Challenger sales in December and the 87% increase in January sales, one can’t think but that maybe interest in the Hellcat brought in some traffic, especially when the mix shifted from mostly Pentastar V6s to Hemis in January.

And for those who complain about how long it’s taking to see a Dart SRT, remember how long it took for the original Dart to turn into something exciting.


Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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