First drive: 2017 Dodge Neon in the UAE

First drive: 2017 Dodge Neon in the UAE


The Dodge Neon is back, but not in the way you think. While the original was an all-American compact sedan, the new one is born from the Fiat-Chrysler conglomerate. In fact, the 2017 Dodge Neon started life as a Fiat Tipo, and it was was even displayed at the last Dubai Motor Show as such.

The Dodge version gets a new signature grille and other miniscule branding changes, and is still built alongside the Fiat in Turkey, with the powertrain coming from Brazil. It’s a decent-looking car in the top SXT Plus trim, with 17-inch alloys and various chrome bits. The base SE model gets black plastic trim and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.

Fiat-Chrysler is keen to position the 2017 Neon as a rival to cars such as the Toyota Corolla and the Nissan Sentra, but the Neon actually falls between the sub-compact Yaris and the compact Corolla in terms of overall size and wheelbase. This is reflected in the rear legroom, which is more in line with its sub-compact rivals. However, they claim to have more boot volume than even the Camry.


Up front, the ambience is nice in the SXT Plus trim, with a soft-touch dash, a free-standing 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with UConnect, easy-to-use auto a/c knobs and leatherette/cloth upholstery. Hard plastics are still prominent on the door panels and lower half of the dashboard, but otherwise, it’s a decent cabin. The base model gets a lot more hard plastics and a more basic stereo integrated into the dash. All get good air-conditioning and Bluetooth phone.

The Neon comes with 6 airbags, ESP, ABS and a tyre-pressure monitor as standard, which is definitely a segment-first.

The standard engine is a 110 hp 1.6-litre 4-cylinder, mated to a 6-speed automatic with manual-shift mode. Expectedly, it’s a very slow car, especially when loaded up with a couple of passengers, and with our aggressive driving, we ended up with 10.8 litres/100 km in fuel consumption. There may be larger engine options in the future.


The suspension is tightly tuned for a reasonably smooth ride with no floatiness, very “European” if you will, although a mild jitter can be felt on some surfaces due to the low-profile tyres, aside from noticeable road and wind noise at 100 kph. Still, it’s well within the standards of the segment.

The steering is on the firm side, with a fair bit of feedback and a thick leather-bound wheel on the SXT variants. The electric power-steering weight can even be reduced by pressing a “city” button on the dash, for easier parking manoeuvres, and it’s standard on all models.

Even the brakes are decent, with good pedal feel. Combined with well-controlled body motions around corners, the Neon is a respectable handler.

The Dodge Neon is a very competent entry, straddling the line between two segments, but also priced perfectly to reflect that. While it could do with a more powerful engine, the Neon does set new benchmarks for gearbox, boot space and safety features.

Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury and Fiat-Chrysler.

For prices and specs, visit the Dodge buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. Why do I have a feeling that it will face a similar death like the Dodge Dart. The Dart was a wrong car, at the wrong time, from the wrong brand. It was not the clear leader in any area that drives customer demand. To complete with the likes of Corolla and Elantra was in itself a huge challenge. It also depends upon the demographics. People never went to Dodge to buy small or under powered cars. But all things said, it’s definitely nice to see the Neon brand revived!

  2. Disgrace to the dodge brand. Looks like a chinese car 😛

  3. You put yourself in bad satiation Dodge. Every time you try to compete in this segment it ends in a great fail !

  4. 10.8 litres/100 km !!! that is what my 2.5 altima gives

    • Add that’s why Altima Sells…price, cabin, engine, space..

      Anyways, when someone says Dodge, i imagine a angry looking muscular car / suv with a fiery v6 or brutish v8, making everyone run for cover when they spot it on their rear view mirror…so…

    • .. and the Pajero on Al Khail Road.

  5. it looks a pretty decent car and with a good price it should be on the roads , Its high time to own a DODGE

  6. … squint the eyes while looking at the first pic and it reminds you of a Disney cartoon character 😀 ( very cheeky photographer )

  7. That infotainment screen on top of the ac vents or whatever they are called… I’ve seen similar thing on some other cars too. Cant remember Merc or some other cars..

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