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Dodge Neon SRT-4



  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Well as someone about to ditch FWD, no way I'll argue the powertrain point, which is not to say that a FWD can't spank.

    But Dodge is claiming under six to 60, and given the racing history of Neon ACRs, we already know they stick like glue. We'd have to see a track showdown on stock models to convince me that the pony can kick it.

    Added advantage: I've ridden in the back seat of a Neon before. Of course it ain't no Maybach, but it beats the knee-crunching butt-buster in a 'Stang fer shur!!

    Very appealing is what I call a sedan you can legitimately take to the track (not that I do) AND haul a couple young'uns in!
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    What about the WRX? It's about $3-4k more expensive but comes with at least that much in extra goodies in a similarly-performing, similar-sized car. And its track rep is similar if not better.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    I think that's a very valid response, sphinx.

    The sales pitch for the SRT-4 is then something like: "Serious contender at a 20% discount!"

  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    WRX may also cost less to insure, offsetting the higher price. In fact, imagine a young 20-something and say an average of $500/year in savings for the first three or so years, plus high demand and markups on the SRT versus easy availability of the WRX, and the difference between the two might be rather small. Hmm.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Why would the Subie cost less to insure? Two turbo'd performance sedans in the small-displacement, compact class; I can't see a huge difference in repair costs.

    If anything, I would think Subie parts might be more expensive, but as I've never purchased any, that's just speculation on my part!

    I don't see ADMs lasting that long on SRT; maybe six months. I suppose if someone's just gotta have a pocket rocket and can't wait, then there is serious benefit to going the WRX route today.

    If only I could stand to LOOK at the darned things! ;-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,496
    Poor Neon. Gets no respect. I really liked them when they first came out. The car had the potential to be a GREAT American car. I was rather hoping it would be the modern version of the Alfa Sprint or the Datsun 510 -- "An Everyman's BMW".

    I still like them. I think what differentiates an enthusiast from a non is that the enthusiast will tolerate mishaps in reliability if they get a car they really love to drive. Neon is one of the very few American cars I would consider buying.

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  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Datsun 510!

    Thanks Shifty, you pegged it! That explains why the Neon is so appealing. It's a true utility player. Can be almost anything you want it to be. For small change too.
  • Mr. Shiftright, thanks for your tactful comments. I won't respond to the personal attack I received today and hope this board continues in its current direction.

    As for the WRX vx. SRT question, it's a great one and I hope a magazine decides to take up the competition in a comparison test soon. Road & Track has already made some remarks in favor of the SRT, and not just based on the price advantage. Here's a link:

    Interesting comparison to the Datsun 510, and this is exactly how I see the everyman's BMW. For that reason, I have always thought the Neon carries on the tradition of the BMW 2002. That's the car I would compare it to, but unfortunately for the Neon, the two do not compare in terms of respect and dominance of their respective eras. The Neon has not been well-marketed by Chrysler, and that's too bad.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,496
    I think the word we want is "botched" by Chrysler. The Neon could have been the American WRX or Si, and shifted the young drivers' focus away from Japanese imports for entry-level buyers who just had to have "a hot coupe/sedan". And it was better-looking than most in its class, too!

    Such a fumble right on the goal line. I'm not sure the Neon can ever come back, even with the SRT. I suppose if the car really hit a home run, maybe the past can be forgotten.

    As you can tell, this Missed Opportunity for an American product really bugs me!

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  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    The Neon has bad baggage because any car under $30k is going to be judged on quality, first and foremost, period. The Miata was a success because it was reasonably well built. If it had been as unreliable as its predecessors, nobody would have bought it. The Integra was a success because it was reasonably well built. Even the Mustang was a success because it didn't exhibit too many glaring flaws. The Neon, unfortunately, was long saddled with glaring problems--trim falling off, body panels grossly misaligned, and so forth. You can get away with that in a $60k car where the badge or the "Feel" is more important than what carries it, but you can't do that at the Neon's price point. Because of that, the Neon has always had its cross to bear. Really, the king of this hill over the years is not the Neon but the Sentra SE-R. Cheap, fast, fun, and well-built. If Dodge has caught up with the 2003-series Neons, then good for them. That is a car worth buying. However, you won't catch me making excuses for Neons of the past. Dodge should have known better and tried harder, and should not expect people to "settle" for a fun car of questionable build quality.

    Because of Dodge's "fumble" the American WRX or Si is the Mustang GT... which isn't a terrible thing, really. It's hard just to type this, but Dodge could learn a thing or two from Ford in this area.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986

    Rose-colored glasses on one end and a mud-filled boot at the other!

    No doubt about it, Neon had teething pains that took a solid three years to overcome. '95-'97 MYs encountered a number of difficulties, the head gasket among them. But from the '98 MY on, improvements have been well-noted, and the issues sphinx alludes to just aren't realities any more.

    And the early and continued success of the Miata based principally on reliability is a ridiculous notion. Miata owners would likely have suffered re-glued trim or a head gasket replacement willingly, perhaps even glowingly.
  • No doubt, the Neon was botched, and I think the mistake was unforgivable in 2000, when Chrysler improved the car in so many ways but didn't go the extra step and offer the 150 hp engine until too late. The early interior trim, etc. problems were legendary, but it's interesting that Chrysler decided to keep the Neon name (after all, it had cult status among budget-minded enthusiasts) at a time when Chrysler was constantly changing the name of its cars in hopes that the public would forget the previous model.

    The American-automobile-manufacturer-blows-it-again aspect really bugs me, too. It's amazing how stupid management-by-counting-beans can be, because there's no connection between finance and marketing in these decisions. In other words, market an excellent R/T from the start, market it in enthusiast publications and through racing publicity, and then offer it in limited quantities....and then watch people line up and pay MSRP for the thing, not demanding 0% financing and rebates. Then watch as the brand image of Dodge (and at the time, Plymouth) becomes truly distinctive and exciting, with a made-in-USA twist that would even work in Europe, where it would be a niche import product.
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    I bought an Intense Blue '99 Sport 5-spd sedan new in May of '99. I loved the handling, the economy and the gutsy DOHC motor. It even looked pretty cool in that nuclear blue color. I hated the cheesy rubber shift boot and rubbermaid interior, the sunroof that broke weekly and the cacophony of rattles and squeeks in the interior. I decided to get rid of it at about 34k miles - just before the warranty expired. My brother bought it from me, but I would only sell it to him if he agreed to spring for an extended warranty. That warranty has been used for a number of things, including a bad head gasket which isn't supposed to be a problem on the DOHC motor or the '98+ models. That warranty has easily paid for itself already.
    So, I've been debating buying a new little runabout for myself. Would I buy another Neon? Sadly, no. A Sentra, Impreza or Protege are on my list, though.
    Would I buy a bigger Dodge / Chrysler product for my family, ala Grand Caravan/Durango/Pacifica? Sorry, no.

  • ndahi12ndahi12 Posts: 235
    cheap, fast and reliable, then you have to pick either the Toyota Corolla FX-16 1987-1988 or the Nissan Sentra SE-R 1991-1994. These are the two cars that come to mind and I have owned them both.

    My FX-16 had 250K miles on it when I sold it and it is still running last I heard. It revs to 7500 rpm and I simply changed the oil and filter ever 4-5K miles. Aside from regular maintenance that thing was trouble free. I would put that car in a similar satsu to the BMW 2002 and Datsun 510.

    I still own my SE-R with 140K miles and it still revs freely to 7500 rpm. This car rocks. It is so fun to drive and cheap to maintain. I am keeping this car until I turn it into a second race car.

    The Neon simply does not measure up in reliabilty to these two cars. It might be fast and cheap, but one thing it is not is reliable. I really do not consider a car realiable if it does not give you 100K trouble free miles. And all of us should not accept anything less from any car maker.
  • gee35coupegee35coupe Posts: 3,475
    That is the best car in the world. I loved that car.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I had a 98 Sport pretty much loaded out with sunroof and all power, with the DOHC and a 5 speed. I was basically flawless, it did trow a code once, but ran fine, Took it to a dealer after a week with the code and got a free set of plugs and wires. Other then that perfect. the best thing about this car was that I bought it brand new for under $11,000. I traded it in on a minivan for my wife after 3 years and still got $8500 on the trade from a dealer, with invoice pricing on the van. That was the wholesale trade value for the neon at the time. $2500 depreciation for 3 years dealing only with a dealer is pretty awesome, as was the performance and fun of that neon. It also achieved 45 MPG on one long highway trip (it was EPA rated at 41 mpg). So near flawless mechanical, $2500 depreciation, 45 MPG, 15.8 1/4 mile times, and SCCA winning suspension for $11,000 new fully loaded? Compared to what else was out there in 98 that neon was way above it's competition. The SE-R was probably the closest competitor but cost $17,000 for no other advantages then the honor of owning a Sentra.

    Personally I think the 2003 Cobra is also a great bang for the buck car, I'm glad it is delivering as promised. There isn't much else for under $34,000 new that delivers that much, just as there isn't anything else under $20,000 that delivers as much bang as the Neon does.

    Here's another question. I have seen those lists of HP per dollar but I think those lists are flawed. they don't look at all vehicles and they don't take into account rebates and such. So here's the question; what current vehicle has the most HP per 1000 dollars based on MSRP after standard current rebates? What one has the most Torque per $1000?
    The 2002 z-28 (if there are any left) has $2000 off it's $23430 base MSRP and 310 HP w/ 340 ft-lbs. So it gets a 14.47 for HP/$$ and 15.87 for torque/$$. I can think of something better at 18.16 on HP and 19.74 on torque, anybody know what it is? or can anybody think of something better?
  • The Sentra SE-R was a great car. I test drove one and thought it handled and felt almost like a BMW, but ended up buying a CRX Si.

    The Neon is still in production, but the SE-R is not. Nissan never could focus and has blown a number of opportunities. If it weren't for Renault, Nissan would probably be bankrupt right now. Chrysler became a fine manufacturer in the 90s...styling and profitability were world class. As for reliability, the pre-2000 Neon was one of Chysler's few reliable cars, ex-trim problems. The post-2000 Neons are safe and reliable. Not as reliable as most Japanese cars, but also more fun to drive and better-looking than most Japanese sedans.
  • judasjudas Posts: 217
    Well, using that formula my used Mustang works out to about 93 HP/1K$ but I don't think thats really fair. :)
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Yeh used cars wouldn't really be fair, I've bought used cars for $100 that ran and drove. With a 68 318 that made 230 HP that would make the ratio 2300!
  • ndahi12ndahi12 Posts: 235
    How many miles did you put on that Neon? I bet yoy did not make 100K before you traded in the car. I would like to see the neon's reliability at 100K. I really doubt that it would be as reliable as the FX-16 or the SE-R.
  • ndahi12ndahi12 Posts: 235
    The SE-R is back in 2002 in 4 door version. You can get the Spec V verison of the SE-R for 16,700 and it has almost all the options that you want. 2.5 liter enigne with 6-speed and a Helical limited slip diff, power everything, AC, CD/AM/FM stereo, sport tuned suspension. The car has 175 hp and 180 lb/ft of torque. It is trule one of the best bang for the buck econosport sedan out there. And you do not get gouged when buying one since it is not a limited production model.

    Renault did bail out Nissan, but the net result has been perfect. Carlos Gohsn has turned Nissan around and it is making profits now. The Z is back and you get the COTY with the G35. The Altima is selling like hotcakes. The Altima, Z, and the G35 are the hottest cars in the market right now. Nissan is on a roll, they are indtroducing one hot car after another.
  • gee35coupegee35coupe Posts: 3,475 has it selling over 1000 less than the Acura TL last month. Significant in that the TL is an older design.

    And we won't talk about the Q45 and M45.
  • b4zb4z Posts: 3,372
    They are selling pretty well considering the kind of sales Infiniti was getting before they
    madeover their entire line.

    Dohn't understand the seat controls on top of the seat bolsters. Never seen that before. I hope it goes away quickly.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,496
    Are we drifting here? Are we done with the Neon?

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  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    It's just to intimidating to talk about, you have to go to other discussions or take pot-shots at expected reliability or at how you don't like the taillights (which is important in that it's what will be seem most by other drivers.) Seriously I don't think there will be much else to say until they show up in the new owners hands in a few weeks.
    Oh, and as long as we are still way off topic... the answer to my best hp/$$ quiz is the new 2003 Hemi Ram. The 1500 ST stickers at under $19,000 with the Hemi, and there is (at least) a $2000 rebate. So $17,000 for 345 HP and 375 ft-lbs. The only true 1/4 mile run I have seen has it at 14.8 @ 93 mph but that is a single run, uncorrected, new motor, lots of wheelspin on a truck with full options including the heavy 20" wheel package. There will be stock Rams in the low 14's for sure. Not bad for $17,000, then add a $4000 Kenne-bell and make 515hp even better! I decided to go this route rather then the SRT-4, but by the time I actually ordered the Ram I ended up checking off lots of options and went with the Quad Cab, so it will be just under $26,000. Hopefully it will be here by April at the latest, I can't wait! Until then I'll have to stand by to defend my 2nd choice the SRT-4.
  • gee35coupegee35coupe Posts: 3,475
    Than any fast car. Sales of fast cheap cars are very low. Even fast cheap cars have insurance that ain't cheap so if you can afford the insurance that is in many cases more than the car, you might as well get a REAL car. I'm not intimidated by a SR-T. For the few that will be sold well be far between and won't be around long.

    As far as the G35 being hot...I guess is depends on what you define "Hot" to be then.
  • I was not aware of Nissan's rollout of a new SE-R in 2002, but checked it out on their website. Looks nice. It has crisp, sharp lines and I'm sure it's very quick. But if I were in the market, I'd go for the SRT-4 over the SE-R in heartbeat. Even the top-of-the-line version will not match the performance of the SRT-4, despite the similar sticker price. I also think the Neon is better-looking...both elegant and aggressive at the same time...although I'm not crazy about the spoilers on either car. On the other hand, some people will want the Japanese reliability over the Neon's performance.

    Chiming in the G35 discussion, the Infiniti is a great car, but the interior in particular leaves me feeling cold about this car. Compare the interior to a BMW coupe's, and they're in different leagues. Also, I believe the G35 was rolled out originally without a manual transmission, which took the wind out of its sails in the enthusiast market...which is after all its target market. I happen to like Infiniti, and once owned a 1995 G20, which was a fabulous, underrated car. (Yes, I have a habit of seeking out underrated cars, like the Neon).
    The next-generation Infiniti was a huge disappointment. I drove one on the Forbes estate in Inifiniti's big rollout party (great party, lousy car). The car looked more generic and cheap inside and lacked the classic styling that I liked about the first G20, the car did not feel as dynamic, and there was no improvement in horsepower. What I'm getting at is Infiniti once had a fantastic, distinctive brand image of performance and quirkyness (like the clock in the center of the dashboard)...the cars had soul. Then they tried to copy Lexus, with disastrous results. I think Infiniti is getting back on track, but G35 interior lacks the soul of the early cars like the first Q45.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,496
    How much do you all think say a 21 year old male driver has to pay for insurance on a high HP car these days? I mean, neither best case nor worst case scenario.

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  • I would say it would easily be over $200 a month if on a policy by himself.
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