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Dodge Neon R/T - Uncommon Performance from a Compact Car

6 January 1999

Dodge Neon R/T - Uncommon Performance from a Compact Car

2001 Dodge Neon R/T
DETROIT, Jan. 5 -- From the moment of its introduction in 1994, Dodge Neon began grabbing the attention of sports car enthusiasts for its uncommon combination of performance characteristics and affordability. Sporty, quick and fun to drive, Neon quickly found a second home on the race tracks of America as the "pocket rocket" of choice among grassroots racers. Dodge capitalized on this interest by producing a special-edition Neon R/T in 1998 and 1999.

After two successful years in its original body style, the Dodge Neon R/T returns for 2001 with all the performance and fun of the first Neon, combined with the refinement and sophistication of the next-generation design.

"We've drawn upon Neon's appeal to sports car racers and put those same characteristics into an everyday vehicle," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Car & Truck Division. "We want to offer the small car owner, who has the driving enthusiasm of a sports car owner, a vehicle that is exciting, quick and responsive. In other words, something they'd never expect from a very affordable compact car."

The idea of a special-edition Neon first took shape in the winner's circle of the SCCA Class C Showroom Stock class events. After three consecutive National titles from 1995-1997, DaimlerChrysler's engineers looked at putting some of that same championship hardware into a production version.

"Many of the characteristics of the Neons that won in the SCCA could easily be adapted for the street," said Joe Caddell, General Product Manager, Small Car Operations. "We knew we had an audience among sports car fans who wanted an exceptional driving experience, but at the same time a good value. From that, the Neon R/T was born."

The next Neon R/T will, once again, claim the best-in-class performance of its predecessor. It features a 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter SOHC engine, mated to a quick-shifting five-speed manual transaxle. The sport suspension, unique springs and sway bars, beefy 16-inch aluminum wheels and performance tires will help keep the vehicle flat in the corners.

The performance characteristics of the new Neon R/T are combined with a new level of refinement found in all new Neons. New full-frame doors and extensive use of baffles has created a quieter ride, while a new front and rear suspension and improved brakes improve the overall ride quality without sacrificing any of the driving fun.

"We've added a new level of refinement and sophistication to the next generation Neon," said Cindy Hess, Vice President and General Manager of Small Car Engineering. "But we kept all the fun-to-drive characteristics that made Neon so successful. The next Neon R/T really underscores this philosophy."

A unique front fascia, front and rear air dams, sill extensions and rear spoiler will help both performance and Neon R/T's "pocket rocket" reputation. This look will be more integrated in part because of the redesign of the next- generation Neon's exterior.

The new Neon's jewel-like headlamps and front fascia design provide a more unified appearance, while the base of the windshield was moved forward three inches. The redesigned rear end and tail lamp designs and pronounced wheel arches present a smoother, more refined look.

"By moving the windshield forward, we have created a more pronounced stance for the vehicle," said Hess. "We think this will make all Neons -- and especially the R/T version -- look racier."

The performance theme and feel of the R/T interior is enhanced by unique leather bucket seats, steering wheel cover and shift knob. These additions will help augment major changes made to the new Neon's larger interior. A completely redesigned instrument panel includes a wider dashboard with sporty, circular analog gauges and a "soft touch" feel on the panel. Power switches have been repositioned on the doors for easier access and a versatile 60/40 rear seat has been added for more versatility.

"Just as the original Neon provided us a great starting point to build an affordable sports car like the Neon R/T, the next-generation car opens up even more possibilities," Hess said. "In short, Neon R/T makes no compromises when it comes to refinement or fun."

The Dodge Neon R/T will be built at DaimlerChrysler's Belvidere, Illinois, Assembly Plant. On-sale date will be released at a later date.