It's taken about a year and a half to get the Dodge Caliber SRT-4 to market, but by September the newest and smallest SRT vehicle will be available for purchase. Chrysler's turbocharged 2.4-liter world engine will still boast a best-in-class 280 HP and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. All that power to the front wheels will be kept under control by an electronically-tuned brake lock differential that controls throttle, spark advance, and boost, while a Getrag six-speed manual transmission will round out the powertrain. To make sure the Caliber SRT-4 holds the same value quotient of the Neon SRT-4, Dodge is working hard to deliver a stripped-down model at just under $20,000.
When we heard that the Caliber would be FWD and have 300 HP, we were skeptical that such a light vehicle would be able to handle that much grunt being sent to the front wheels. 280 HP isn't a drastically lower number, but Dodge engineers are at least trying to keep the prodigious understeer in check. If Dodge can deliver a budget hot rod under $20,000 that boasts 280 useful horsepower and a road-holding suspension (plus those trick 19" SRT wheels), then the Mazdaspeed3 and VW R32 are going to be in for some stiff competition.