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Tech Blitzkrieg 4: Dodge Neon

Dodge Neon SRT-4
Big Boost, Little Price Tag

Mar 17, 2003
0305tur_01z+Dodge_Neon_SRT4+Front_Driver_Side Photo 1/5   |   ENGINE SHOT: The A853 features an iron block, aluminum head, 8.1:1 compression and a four-valve-per-cylinder DOHC valvetrain. All these attributes are positive indicators for enthusiast tuners.
INTERIOR SHOT: The interior is sporty and functional. Talk about bang for the buck--the Neon checks in with a paltry $19,995 bottom line.

The future has never been brighter for Dodge and its Neon. Long an underdog of Rodney Dangerfield proportions, the Neon's days as an outsider are numbered.

The Neon will get its respect the old-fashioned way: 1,320 feet at a time. Mopar will have a three-pronged attack with Shaun Carlson (Pro FWD), Mike Crawford (Hot Rod) and Scott Mohlers (All Motor) displaying the ultimate capability of the Neon on the strip in 2003.

Of all the brands, Dodge has the best road-going version of its racecar in the SRT-4. So fans of Mopar's on-track heroics can actually drive a boosted version of the same car. Strictly speaking, GM's Cavalier is a poor rental car; vehicle dynamics are reminiscent of the early '80s.

Ford's Focus is a good car for the money and its SVT version has a lot going for it, but for the same money you can get boost in the Neon SRT-4. Also, there is only one active Focus in quarter-mile competition, and it (Ben Ma's RWD) may be on borrowed time (out of rare Cosworth blocks).

0305tur_03z+Dodge_Neon_SRT4+Front_End Photo 2/5   |   Yes, a front-mount, air-to-air intercooler is standard fare on the Neon SRT-4. This means the enthusiast can get more from turning up the boost.

Honda has few current model cars to support its Si, the most notable being Adam Saruwatari's stretched RWD Si and, as of this writing, it's only been as far as the Honda booth turnstile at SEMA.

Toyota is making waves in a big way with the Supra 2JZ-GTE and while this may play a small role in the Supra's popularity and high cost in the used-car market, it does nothing on an OE level for Toyota.

Dodge should be congratulated for having the fortitude to find ways over the hurdles that have stopped other OEs in their quest to turbocharge vehicles. Furthermore, it's able to package a front-mount air-to-air intercooler in the SRT-4. Unlike the rest, Mopar has a high-performance turbocharged car in its lineup to truly cash in on its extensive racing program.

0305tur_05z+Dodge_Neon_SRT4+Wheel Photo 3/5   |   A tuned sport suspension and 17-inch rolling stock ensure the Neon can put its 223 whp to the ground.

It's not all golden, however; Dodge cast the turbine housing into the exhaust manifold. We haven't seen this conjoined-like-Siamese-twins setup in person so we're not sure if compressor upgrades are possible. We do know that Mopar's upgrade will include a new housing/manifold and expect serious upgrade kits will include an aftermarket manifold.

That said, the SRT-4 delivers the goods on the dyno, where it blasted out 223 whp and a wicked 250 lb-ft of torque. All that power out of the box; not to mention how the car's turbo, f/m intercooler, 8.1:1 static compression ratio and iron block scream "bring on the boost."

Its highly tuneable personality and its $19,995 price tag make the Neon one of the more intriguing purchase possibilities on the market.

Vital Statistics
EngineA853 Inline 4
BlockIron
HeadAluminum, DOHC
Turbo
IntercoolerFront-mount air-to-air
Displacement2429cc
Bore & Stroke87.5mm x 101mm
Compression8.1:1
Fr Brakes11-in. vented discs
Rr Brakes10.6-in. discs
Wheels17x6 (45mm offset)
Tires205/50ZR-17
Curb Weight2870 lbs.

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