2013 Dodge Dart5) Top-Notch Aerodynamics. The engineering team also spent a lot of time on aerodynamics. “We have eight or nine belly pans in different locations, and they’re really helping the flow of air at the back of the car,” said Merlo. “Also, we have automatic grille shutters (they’ll be included on almost all models, though some of the lower trims will offer an aerodynamic option package), and we spent a lot of time managing air flow around the car.”
2013 Dodge DartEnlarge Photo
That meant completely redesigning the side mirrors, which are a big improvement. “And we laser welded the roof to the body-side apertures…That gets rid of the whole ‘ditch molding appearance’ and it yields a very smooth laminar airflow around the car,” said Merlo.
“The ceiling on this car has gone through significant evolution to the point that we have triple-lipped seals nearly everywhere,” he added. “Then we’ve looked at sound quality and closing efforts, because as you add seals you tend to set up a situation that can fight those kinds of things.”
6) The More Rigid Body Structure Helps, Too. “As you noise-isolate your intakes and your exhausts, all of those things together really help create a much smoother and free-running—and a less deflecting engine.” Merlo summed, leading to a final point: that body structure and engine structure play a huge role as well. With the Dart’s much more rigid body structure, combined with the engine changes, there’s less movement in general.
“As you get deflection, you get drag on the engine, and you get things that can create noise. So having something that's very rigid, very solid, allows the engine to turn freely and feel smoother.”
Moving from the Neon into the Caliber and World Engine, Chrysler modernized to an all-aluminum block, which often brings new vibration issues, Merlo said. “A lot of those things are lessons learned, related to the new design,”
We’ll bring you more information about the new Dart in coming months—including, we hope, a first drive sometime this spring. In the meantime, see our live gallery of the Dart at the Detroit Auto Show for another look, plus our preview of the 2013 Dodge Dart for more information.