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Revised Dodge Caliber driven

2010-07-29 11:50
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Dodge
Model Caliber
Engine 2.0l DOHC 16V dual VVT engine; 2.4l DOHC 16V dual VVT engine
Power 115 kW @ 6 300 r/min; 125 kW @ 6 000 r/min
Torque 190 Nm @ 5 100 r/min; 220 Nm @ 4 500 r/min
Transmission 5-speed manual or CVT
Zero To Hundred 11.2 seconds (11.3); 10.1 seconds
Top Speed 198 km/h (186 km/h); 191 km/h
Fuel Tank 51.5 l
Fuel Consumption 7.4 l/100 km ( 7.7 l/100 km (all combined)
Boot Size 296 l - 1 013 l
Steering rack and pinion pwer steering
ABS with ESP, traction control and brake distribution
Airbags dual front and side curtain airbags
Front Suspension Independent MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent Multi-Link
Service Intervals 12 000 km

Hailey Philander

About four years ago, the Dodge Caliber was launched to great fanfare as the peculiar-looking champion of the then-new-to-SA brand. It was not a very pleasurable experience.

In 2010, the revised Dodge Caliber is being introduced by a slightly more lively-looking Chrysler outfit, too.

With the trouble plaguing its US parent company seemingly now firmly behind it, Chrysler SA appears on the up and up, ready to tackle the task of selling cars.

Campaigning for the renewed cause is the revised Caliber, which has been subjected a range of mid-lifecycle updates.

Same face

There aren’t many changes. If you’re looking at the Caliber, playing “spot the difference”, you may be sorely disappointed; apart from new 18-inch alloy wheels, the exterior is unchanged. No new headlamps or taillight, no new bumpers, nothing. It could be argued, however, that the distinctive design of the Caliber is one of its more noteworthy qualities…

But what is a big change is the brand-new interior. The despairing bleats of journalists and (hopefully) clients did not go unnoticed. Gone is the garish grey and silver interior, to be replaced with a more sensible black on black.
The plastics on the door trim and facia are still hard, but the black finish makes it a lot easier on the eye. Instruments are neatly arranged and, while clearly shared with other Jeep and Chrysler family members, fit in rather nicely with the new look of the dash.

Engines are familiar, although the 2.0-litre turbodiesel (that was arguably the better Caliber the first time around) has been dropped from the line-up, supposedly due to lack of demand. Only four-cylinder petrol models are available with 2.0- and 2.4-litre capacities.

The 2.0 generates 115 kW at 6 300 r/min and 190 Nm at 5 100 r/min, while the 2.4-litre version produces 125 kW at 6 000 r/min and 220 Nm at 4 400 r/min. A five-speed manual transmission is offered across the range, with Hill Start Assist now standard. A CVT is available for the 2.0-litre.

A manual 2.4-litre was made available for the 200 km or so route, where the bigger powerplant proved to be adequate, if not underwhelming. If you’re looking for sports, it’s best to consider the kit on offer.

Well equipped

There is one very comprehensive specification level across the range, and telling the difference between the 2.0- and 2.4-litre models is virtually impossible.

Along with the redesigned interior, heated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, air conditioning with a Chill Zone storage bin for beverages and illuminated cup holders are standard.

On the safety front, electronic stability control and dual front and curtain airbags are standard. Front seats with active headrests are new.

Options include a variety of Mopar aftermarket enhancements that can be dealer fitted, the kitsch or funky (depending on your taste) Powergate speaker system complete with subwoofer and satellite navigation running off a 30Gb hard drive.

Chrysler SA executives list the Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Mazda3 as the Caliber’s main competitors, but we’d hazard they should probably be aiming closer to the Nissan Qashqai or the Suzuki SX4.

On its first stab at the South African market, the slightly offbeat Caliber was virtually unchallenged in the high-riding hatchback market. It failed to make an impact. Now it’s surrounded on all sides by very competent players, the uphill climb should seem even more daunting.

2.0 SXT - R226 900
2.0 SXT CVT - R236 900
2.4 SXT - R246 900

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