What it is
Based on Chrysler’s “world engine,” engineers re-machined the four-cylinder block, changed the pistons and cylinders, added high temperature hardware, then mated the engine to a six-speed manual transmission. They also added better brakes – a good idea – moving up to stoppers sourced from the Chrysler 300 and other mid-sized vehicles. SRT techs also improved the ride and handling, sitting the car on 19-inch wheels, and sport-tuning the Caliber’s independent front and rear suspension, the rack and pinion steering and the Electronic Stability Program (ESP). Design changes to the Caliber mainly center on revising the front and rear fascias; front to deliver the necessary air flow and cooling, and rear in order to bring the Caliber into the SRT design family. Interior enhancements include sport seats, SRT monograms, carbon fiber and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Caliber SRT colors include black, orange, silver and red.
Why it matters
But we’re getting a little too excited. What the 2007 Dodge Caliber SRT-4 does upon introduction is give the Chrysler group yet another smokin’ performance variant, one that firmly plants the Tire Burn Out crown on top of the collective heads of the guys at SRT. It’s rare to see such a long string of successes from a mainstream performance brand, and amazing to see what a car company can do with some engineering smart-alecks and a great engine lineup.
What’s under the hood
That power is sent to 19-inch wheels – with bearings and hubs borrowed from Chrysler mid-size cars – connected to a reinforced four-wheel independent suspension with sport-tuned dampers and spring rates. Dodge’s Electronic Stability Program (ESP), standard on the Caliber SRT-4, is also tuned to handled the power load. Stopping reportedly happens from in 115 feet from 60 mph, and is done courtesy of oversized brakes borrowed, like the wheel components, from larger Chrysler cars – specifically the Chrysler 300. Vented brake rotors for the 2007 Dodge Caliber SRT-4 are 340 x 28 mm in front and 302 x 10 mm in the rear, and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is standard. Other standard safety features include Brake Assist (BA), a Tire Pressure Monitor and a knee airbag that deploys when the driver’s primary airbag inflates. Optional safety equipment includes side curtain airbags.
What it looks like
What we think
When you can buy it
Engine Horsepower: 300 at 6,000 rpm
Engine Torque: 260 lb.-ft between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
EPA Fuel Economy: 22/28
Length: 173.8 inches
Width: 68.8 inches
Wheelbase: 103.7 inches
Height: 60.4 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: Five
Max. Cargo Volume: 48.0 cubic feet
Competitors: Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Chrysler PT Cruiser GT, Honda Civic Si, Mazdaspeed 3, MINI Cooper S, Pontiac Vibe GT, Saab 9-2X, Saturn Ion Red Line, Saturn Vue Red Line, Subaru Impreza WRX, Toyota Matrix XRS, Volkswagen GTI
Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler